Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ode to a Swimming Pool.

When I first moved to Rochester, Minnesota I had an email conversation with my friend Tara who lives in Chicago.  I remember telling her I was not yet in love with my new town and it certainly lacked a lot of the charm I had grown fond of in La Crosse, Wisconsin.   Tara gave me probably the best advice I could have been given at the time--to be patient--it sometimes takes awhile for the particular magic of a place to reveal itself to us.  

Peace Plaza Christmas Tree

I have been keeping that advice in mind this season as I have watched the city transform itself into its winter holiday garb.  I have been discovering little things. A Christmas tree and a stone fountain in the Peace Plaza; the easy comfort and familiarity of a public library; a favorite route to and from work with interesting architecture and recognizable town characters; brilliant sunrises and sunsets.

In the midst of change and development and the exhaustion following weeks of long days and answering many questions I have found a favorite place--the Kahler Hotel.

I believe in the power of 3.  Three, and I quote School House Rocks, is a magic number.

As of two weeks ago I had visited the Kahler Hotel three times.

Portrait of Ethan encased by stone wings. 
My inaugural visit was during the first and possibly only FablesCon--a weekend celebrating mythic fiction and my first comic convention. Friends visited from out of state and we enjoyed a weekend of great conversation and an appreciation for a certain art form.  I made new friends as well--people with whom I have had adventures and made new memories.  It was a weekend that marked what could possibly be the best ever international pool party.

My second visit to the Kahler was for very different purposes--it was where I attended along with the other co-op managers The Rising Stars Leadership Conference.  This time at the Kahler was meaningful not only because of what I was learning in the conference, but it also showed me great things can come from very small kitchens.  My deli crew catered the entire event on their own, with only a little help in the planning from me.  They executed the entire three days of breakfast and lunch,  from preparation, delivery, to set up. It made me really proud and thankful.

My third visit to the Kahler was just two weeks ago--when a good friend sent me word that she was gifting me and Ethan with an evening's stay at the Kahler.  It was just the thing we needed after a long week.  I left work and walked the few blocks over to the hotel to check in.  Although this was my third visit to the hotel, it was the first time I had stayed as a proper guest.  The hotel has an old time charm with modern conveniences.  It is located directly across from Mayo Clinic, and is both connected by skyway access and subway to other downtown businesses.  

I am a proper guest, blue overnight bag and all.

My room was small but comfortable--it was the perfect evening getaway.  Ethan met me a few hours later and we went to dinner.  I stayed at the hotel while he spent the evening at home so our animals would not be alone.   In the morning I woke up before sunrise and made my way to the top floor of the hotel to go swimming.
The whole kidney shaped pool to myself

I had the whole pool to myself--and from this floor I had a perfect view of downtown.   Above the pool is a sky-lit dome--and it was my hope to witness the sunrise from my watery vantage.

Skyway access to the other buildings always illuminated. 

In a swimming pool I am transformed. I am weightless, I am a mermaid or a deep sea diver.  This particular morning I was a ballet dancer who could stand perfectly on pointe while I hummed the theme from Swan Lake.  I was graceful, and perfectly calm and without stress.  Though this night's stay was a few weeks before Christmas--it was the best gift anyone could have given me.  A chance to be alone with my thoughts and my imagination.

The second step is the coldest. 

As I stood in the middle of the pool with my eyes wide open and ready to embrace what I hoped would be a fantastic sunrise, I realized the morning was overcast.  But I knew the sun had risen, and would again the next day.

Sunrise overlooking downtown Rochester taken from People's Food Co-op sidewalk.