Monday, August 6, 2012

beach babes

Bridgette and I kicked off our shoes and waded into the turquoise water, making comments about "How bright!" and "How blue!" and "How BEAUTIFUL" everything was.  Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe at 10:20 a.m.  We were accompanied by a solid chunk of Carson City's population.

The water was initially cold, but we edged in further, lamenting our lack of swimming suit.  (I was verbally lamenting that Sand Harbor was not a clothing optional beach.) I pulled my shorts up, scrunched around my thighs.  Bridgette also rolled her exercise capris up to high-thigh.  The comments continued--how bright, how blue, how beautiful.  I contemplated diving in, fully clothed.  As I write this, I'm not sure why I didn't.

We eventually sat back on the sand to dry our feet.

"Know what I love about beaches?" said I, "the diversity and variety in bodies.  There are sculpted arms and flat stomachs, but there are also pot bellies, stretch marks, wrinkles, and plenty of cellulite.  There are big bodies and little bodies and bodies in between.  There are old bodies and young bodies and bodies in between. They are all thriving and beautiful and soaking in the sunshine."

There was plenty to see and love and laugh at.  And then we started watching two little girls, all of 3 or 4 years old, chasing each other back and forth in and out of the water.  A redundant game to us adults that I'm sure would grow old fast.  Not to these little sprites!  Every time they hit the water it was with novelty, freshness, and excitement--as though each time were the first time.

Through their squeals, giggles, and unintelligible chatter I asked the one in the purple with ruffles, "What do you like most about the beach?"

"The WATER!!!" She replied, with confidence and enthusiasm, not sparing a moment to look at me.

I asked Bridgette if she remembered what it was like, to experience the beach when she was a child.

"I remember being proud of how strong I was.  I could out swim most of my family members.  I was fast.  I remember being proud of my strong body."

When did we relinquish our strength?

I remember the games I would play in the water that were creative and exciting.  I remember beaches in California and jumping over waves for so many hours that I got nauseated.  Loving my body wasn't something I was aware of, because it never occurred to me at the beach when I was little that I could ever feel disdain for my body.  Why on earth would that cross my mind?  All I knew was that the beach was the portal to the ocean and that the ocean was a magical place filled with life and stories and that if one wasn't careful it would swallow you in and never give you back.  

I watched these girls for a time.  Their backs straight, chest open and proud.  They ran with wedgies, and arm floaties, and hair in their face, ridiculous.  Exuberant.  Strong.

I wanted to pull them in and tell them to always stay strong and free.  I wanted to tell them to never sell their confidence for fashion--to never sell their happiness for a rockin' bod.  To never sell their health, their fire, their souls.  I would look at them in the eyes and tell them to please stay free forever.

But.  That wouldn't happen.  I wouldn't get a sentence in.  

They wouldn't make eye contact or hear my words.  They'd squirm out of my grasp and dive into the sea.

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