I had to think about that. What everyone else said was true, there was a perfectly good (and probably higher end) gym right on campus. That's included in my stipend, so why pay 35 dollars a month for something you already have? I'm a pretty thrifty person, almost to a fault, so I needed to justify this investment.
There are a few reasons that have come to me as I've ridden from the Y in the endless misty drizzle of this week. On a practical level, I will use something more when I've paid for it. There's a motivation to make my 35 dollars stretch to the limit. Socially, getting out of the Emory bubble is never a bad thing. I'm sure the facilities there are state of the art, but after 11ish hours a day on campus, I'm ready for anything different. Overall the Y broadens my social circle to a plethora of wonderful people who might never cross my path otherwise. I've already met some awesome Janet Jackson loving instructors and had a good conversation in the hot tub. Actually, that hot tub might be the best part about the Y. What could be better than a good soak after pushing your body. I can melt into the water and allow thoughts to float through my mind freely. The muscles and mind relax, and I can leave in peace knowing I have worked both hard through the day. Hot tubs rock.
These are all wonderful validations for my new membership, but I've come to realize there is one more essential reason that drew me there. The YMCA is familiar. I noticed it when I walked down the whitewashed hall to the locker room for the first time. My head was flooded with memories of hours spent in the Eau Claire Y when I was so much younger. The squeak of wet sneakers reminded me of snowy shoes wiped clean before playing racquetball with my dad. The erratic thump of basketballs in the gym brought back my years as the shortest kid on the basketball team, when just running around was enough. The tang of chlorine flashed scenes of swimming lessons, the bane of five year old me. Every sense held a memory. Despite all the positive new the last three months have brought me, it feels wonderful to slip into the old and comfortable if only for a while. Not unlike a good soak in the hot tub.