Now THAT’S how you write a title.
We’ve been swimming a lot this summer because Carlos is tall enough to touch the bottom of the shallow end on his tippy toes. Vivi is a fish. Finally, an hour in the pool isn’t a constant vigil to make sure no one dies. I can even sit in the inflatable recliner while they entertain themselves. And if a nice glass of wine sits in the cup holder on that recliner, who am I to say no?
Last week, Vivi wanted to play horse and pull me around by my foot while I rode in my “carriage.” Again, who am I to crush her dreams? As she towed me around the deep end, the water kept flipping the loose top of my swimsuit up over my belly. And I kept jerking it down. The first time it happened, I felt a real moment of panic for a second–my BELLY was out in the OPEN. Every time the pale wobbly skin peeked out, I rushed to cover it back up.
Imagine the horror. My very own skin, exposed. In front of…my children? In…my own pool? Right out there…behind an eight-foot privacy fence?
What the hell?
Seriously…what the hell was I ashamed of in my own space among people who have actually occupied that belly? What do I have to hide?
For the 10 years that I was with Fartbuster, I didn’t put on a swimsuit. Not even in my dad’s pool. His dad’s pool. No trips to the beach. No afternoons at our neighborhood pool. I felt like I was too hideously fat to be able to wear a suit. For Pete’s sake…I wore like a FOURTEEN. Monster.
As soon as we split up, that summer, I put on a raggedy old black one-piece and crept into Daddy and Gay’s pool. By myself. And I stayed under the surface. It felt great. Cool water on a hot July day. It also felt great to reclaim that part of my life.
I got used to the feel of the sun on my skin again. There was more skin there than there had been in my youth, but it was MY skin and I got OK with it again.
A few summers passed in conservative black one pieces. Sturdy suits. No frippery, all function.
Then along came Greece. Richard and I had been talking about it for a while. He knew it had been #1 on my bucket list since I was a girl. Flights got cheap, the vacation days built up. We decided to go for it in the summer of 2003. Our first destination was Crete for some beach time and archaeology.
Do you know what people do on the beaches in Greece? They avoid tan lines. They are right up there with Brasilians in their hatred of tan lines.
I didn’t think I could go the Full Monty, but I was willing to take The Girls out for a spin. Unfortunately, you can’t just put the top down when you’re wearing a sturdy one-piece. This adventure called for a BIKINI. Yipes. Because at this point in my life, I was still wearing a FOURTEEN. And Richard loved me nonetheless, go figure. Luckily, by that late date, the tankini had been invented. I got myself one (and some SPF 80 sunscreen for the girls) and off we went to Greece.
I slid into my nautical striped tankini in the hotel outside Xania then made my way down to the water. It was a Tuesday morning, not crowded at all, but I was still nervous about the unveiling.
Here’s what I learned on that beach. We Americans think that only the hot people sunbathe topless. Nope. Everybody does it. Y’mom and them. Errabody. I looked to my left and there sat a German couple in their 70s, letting it all hang out. Not even sitting on a towel. To my right, another pair, maybe Dutch, maybe 50ish. Flapping in the wind. I was The Hottie on that beach…and it didn’t matter.
I wiggled out of that top and slapped some SPF80 on The Girls. I tried to act like it wasn’t the first time they had seen the light of day since the 1970s. After a while, after I realized that nobody gave a damn what my boobs looked like or which way they were heading, I forgot all about it and just had a lovely day at the beach.
With no tan lines.
I discovered that, the less swimsuit I wore, the more comfortable I felt with my body. Even a few days later on the weekend, when the real hotties showed up, I was OK. I let the girls out to play in Crete, Santorini, Mykonos. The Greek Islands Boob Tour of 2003. We should have sold t-shirts but no one would have worn them. A few weeks after we returned, I went to the beach in Maryland with my brother and his family and I remember thinking, “GAH! This suit is so hot! Let me outta here!”
So how did I end up 10 years later, hastily hiding my white belly from my children in the safety of my own backyard?
Well, that’s a story for the therapist’s couch. Regardless, we’ve been swimming so much this summer that my old Mom Suits have begun to disintegrate. That means…it’s time to buy a swimsuit. The other day, I read a story by Jenny Trout called “I Wore a Bikini and Nothing Happened.” It’s an entertaining tale with a surprise ending–no one was struck blind and the sky did not rain toads when she dared to wear a bikini in public. Imagine that!
I did imagine that. My bikini came in the mail today.
I’m going to put on a little Greek music, throw some lamb on the grill, and see if I can’t recapture some of that woman who let it all hang out in 2003. I apologize in advance for any toads that rain from the sky!