Wrote this after seeing a woman at a pool my kids and I frequently visit.
She was stopped at a light. She looked down at her feet. Her woolen gray socks and her leather gray flat Mary Janes looked ridiculous against her bare white legs. The rope nautical looking beach bag sitting on the passenger seat next to her, and the suit she had on, were purchased at the Goodwill store near her duplex. She got both for just under ten dollars.
She just moved here a few weeks ago from a small town in Oklahoma. With no kids of her own, and not dating or seriously seeing anyone since her separation, she decided to move to Minnesota because she had family members living here, and because she wanted to venture out on her own. With no money to afford anything new, shopping at Goodwill would save her some cash.
The light changed. She put her foot on the accelerator, and tried not to think of her bad choice in footwear. She was on her way to a nearby suburb to check out the community pool. Her family members at dinner the previous night were talking about what a fun place the pool was. She needed a well-deserved rest from the move because she had spent the last couple of weeks searching for apartments, unpacking and searching for a job. She brought a book with her that she had meant to read quite a while ago and she couldn’t wait to delve into it.
When she arrived, she gathered her things from the car and walked up the long path to the pools cashier. The day was perfect. It was neither too hot nor too cold. No wind. A perfect summer day for mid - June. She paid her fee, and once more glanced down at her feet, felt odd, and embarrassed. Around her were moms with strollers and kids running around. It was barely ten am and the pool was already crowded. A few moms were looking at her strangely as she passed through the women’s locker room. She kept thinking of how she must look leaving her thick socks and leather shoes on.
To her right was a line of mirrors that led to the bathrooms. She took a quick glance at herself and noticed how gray her hair was getting and how badly she needed a color and cut. Most of the moms around her looked as if they frequently had their hair done. Some of the women looked to be in expensive bathing suits. Nothing she could ever possibly afford. She looked at the large birthmark that was above her left eyebrow. This mark on her face suddenly stood out more prominently. She felt awful about herself, insignificant, and suddenly ugly. She hurriedly put her hand through her hair as if to straighten or comb it out, trying to tame the many flyways. She turned, and headed towards the pool. A woman carrying a baby passed by her and bumped into her not noticing, kids were jumping into the pool and it was loud. She quickly glanced around for an open deck chair, found one, and made her way towards it. There was a pirate ship next to the pool where you could grab a rope, slide down it, and drop in the pool.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw some movement, and heard some shouting. She looked towards the person. It was her sister. Next to her sister were her kids - they began waving too. She was overjoyed to see the relatives she had dinner with last night. They were all smiling at her and shouting come over here.
Approaching her relatives, she got some hugs from her nieces and nephews. After the hellos, she tossed off her shoes and took off her ugly gray thick socks and jumped in the pool. She thought about how silly she was for wasting so much time on how she felt about herself. They were so insignificant.