I press the towel to my face for a long time. A lot longer than when I get out of the shower at home, when a few swipes take care of the drips. The shower at the gym is different: It is the final stint of nearly an hour of wetness, most of which is spent with my head in the water as I swim my laps.
During all that time, I’m not aware of the water as wet. It is, rather, temperature: The comforting warmth of my pre-swim shower. The tunnel of balm in the steam room. The shock of cold in the corridor between the locker room and the pool. The coolness I resign myself to when I lower myself into my lane. A temperate embrace once I get going. A chill when I get out and the air sucks the drops from my body. The blasting heat of the shower that follows. The humid moisture that remains in the stall.
Then the towel. It is far from plush, smaller than I wish it were. I grab it from its hook beside the shower curtain, unfold it and lift it to my face. I don’t rub or pat; I press gently, holding the nubby fabric against my cheeks. I stand like that for a few moments. It is only then that I notice I have been wet for so long, and I can’t wait to be dry.
Susan Hodara is a journalist, memoirist and educator. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Communication Arts, and more. Her short memoirs are published in assorted anthologies and literary journals, including River Teeth, Feed and Airplane Reading. She is one of four co-authors of the collaborative memoir “Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance With Our Mothers” (Big Table Publishing, 2013). She has led memoir writing workshops for many years. More at www.susanhodara.com.