Monday, February 01, 2010

You Didn't Hear About the Polar Bear?

This city has an annual tradition called Snow Fest. It's a fun day where the city has all sorts of free snow-related activities in a park. There was sledding and snowboarding and snow graffiti (spraying the snow with spray bottles filled with colored water) and a snowball throwing booth and so on. The biggest event of the day was a Polar Bear Swim, where you jump into a pool filled with water and ice, and climb out into a hot tub. It sounded awesome. As you may know, I HATE the cold, but I LOVE water. It was such a conflict. In the end, my love of water and adventure won out and I signed up. Also, Dude, my nerves are stretched to the max and I thought this would be a moral booster. Yes, I signed up to do a Polar Bear Swim.

First off, let me say, Snow Fest was a blast. I loved it. Second, when they started the Polar Bear Swim, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I thought we all went at once, you know, everyone climes into one end of the pool, swims fifty feet splashing and dunking each other and then climbs out the other side. I planned to glide underwater the whole way. But no, they take three or four people at a time, raise them into the air, then have them jump five feet down into the water one at a time so everyone can gawk at you. There was a HUGE crowd of people and a news camera and a professional camera crew. It became obvious that this was no small event about the mystical healing powers of ice water. This was a huge spectator sport about pleasing the crowd and daring your friends. There were costumes. Costumes; A bunch of teenage boys dresses up as the statue of liberty, a girl dressed in a jail outfit complete with a ball and chain, and a group of ten year old boys with super-man capes (The youngest age you could sign up was ten, and there were indeed a lot of ten year olds). The best costume was a Marvel Comics version of Wolverine. With the yellow spandex and the claws and mask and everything. He jumped off the platform in a full wolverine claws-out-yelling-belly-flop way. It was so great.

Anyway, I had planned to swim in my swimsuit (what else?) but it soon became apparent that that wouldn't work. Not only because it wasn't a costume, but for modesty reasons. All the other girls were wearing T-shirts and shorts. Also, this was my first time out in public in bathing suit after Ash was born and I was VERY self-conscious. I decided I just couldn't go up in front of the crowd and the camera in my bathing suit. I still wanted to do the swim, I just couldn't do it in a bathing suit. So I ran home to change into a summer wet suit. Summer wet suit are the thinnest wet suit and aren't designed to protect you from extreme cold, so I thought I would still get the full effect. Let me emphasise I wore the suit to protect my fat from the cameras, not to protect me from the cold.

It was cold. VERY cold. There was no air in my lungs, my hair was instantly frozen, and I had a headache by the time I climbed into the hot tub. It was SO GREAT! As I was climbing out of the pool, this little kid threw a snowball in the water. Thanks, kid. We appreciate you keeping the ice levels up.

I would do it again. Maybe not in front of the crowd, but I would do it again.

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