Still Life Sunday: Changing Room


7 Changing Room

Every Saturday I go to the local swimming hall for a 30-minute breast swim.

When swimming, everybody sort of become the same and individuals cease to exist. But in the changing room and the sauna I get to see these people, their faces, their naked bodies.

I have the opportunity to observe them, witness these people as they go on about their lives. And that is one of the best parts of my Saturday routine.

For instance, this is what I have seen:

A group of elderly women who attend a water gymnastics lesson every Saturday. After their work-out they sit in the changing room, talking loudly with each other – about food.

One time they talk about their favorite porridge as a child (rye-blueberry porridge being the favorite of many). Another Saturday it’s all about cakes with cream that taste like Irish Coffee (and how one of the grandchildren should bake the cake to impress a potential boyfriend).

And another Saturday, in the sauna:

Two women, sisters, both overweight with heavy breasts resting against their big bellies. They remind me of the sisters Alibullen – fictional characters from a children’s story my father used to read to me when I was little. In the books, the Alibullen sisters were always fun to visit – at the Alibullen Residence you could do anything you wished for and eat as many sweets and cakes you wanted.

While enjoying the heat, these two ladies gossip loudly about their childhood crushes and what these once handsome guys are up to nowadays. I just sit back, close my eyes and listen to their stories, feeling amused.

But this is my favorite observation yet:

A woman in her 50s, who sighs heavily and seems frustrated as she enters the changing room. However, the sighing ceases and calmness seems to take over the frustration when she sits down, takes out a fork from her bag and a huge plate of blueberry pie wrapped in a plastic bag.

I watch her eat the pie in gigantic, almost desperate mouthfuls, wondering what is happening. From one moment to another, I witness two completely different persons. And the change in character is all because of a pie made with blueberries.

After eating a third of the pie, she changes into her swimsuit and leaves for the showers.

People live their lives in so many different ways. By observing these people – in cafés, libraries, changing rooms – I get new perspectives on life. And sometimes I learn something from these observations – if I’m up for the challenge.


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