Spring cleaning is in full gear at my house. Garage tidied? Check. Closets organized? Check. New bathing suit purchased? Oye.
Living in paradise can feel like being stuck in a black hole with no other movie playing except Groundhog day. I know, I can die now for saying that. But, the weather is essentially the same every day. Being that I live by the beach and it’s almost summer, naturally, beachwear is on my brain. This weekend I felt compelled to clean out my junk drawer to see if I had monsters living in there. I was scared.
The good news is, I found about 13 lonely socks that lost their mate sometime in the early 90s’. (You’re welcome, Salvation Army. I feel bad about that donation). The bad news is, my current suit situation is PATHETIC. I mistakenly discovered stretched bottoms and faded tops that have seen more sun than well, most eighty-year-olds here. Then, I realized… <huff> I had to go bathing suit shopping. Something a woman can only do alone. Why would I volunteer opinions from an honest friend?
When I got to my favorite discount boutique, I found my way through the maze of aisles and arrived at suits. I took a quick gander at the wide variety of women shopping for them and wondered if they were as uncomfortable as me. I thought that I believed in the revolution: If you got it, flaunt it. Not saying I think that highly of myself. I’m not a Victoria Secrets model, but I’m comfortable with who I am.
UNTIL…a close friend of mine told me last year that, wearing two-pieces at our age is “inappropriate.” Thus, perplexion. There are rules to being comfortable in one’s skin? Flaunt it if you got it – unless, you’re old enough to drink, American and not a celebrity.
I spoke to my mother about this notion in order to get an older and wiser woman’s viewpoint. She assured me my friend was clearly intoxicated or had lost her mind. I was perfect. Leave it to your mother to lie when it’s perfectly appreciated and encouraged.
There I am, swallowed in the tangle of string bikinis, sarongs and the smell of spandex. I grabbed about 24 suits and tossed them in my cart. The scowl on the dressing room attendant’s face told me that perhaps, I did go a bit overboard and she was going to have fun putting those away later. She must realize not all bathing suits fit the same, I thought.
Standing in that line, I felt like a sheep being herded back into the farm’s gates. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the familiar face of an old co-worker. After a few moments of uncomfortable small talk about what we’re both doing now, the conversation changed. Her eyes started shifting to the large spew of neon orange and floral nylon shouting in my shopping cart.
“Looking for a bathing suit?” she said. I nodded quickly. I saw a slight rise in one of her eyebrows as she told me, “I looked for one too, but just didn’t see anything that would work.”
And I felt myself get a bit defensive. Oh. It was too late to kick away my cart and pretend like it belonged to the woman standing next to me (who I later caught picking things out of my cart! Who does that?) So I said something dumb like, “Yep! It’s that time again!” – like I am some crazy bathing suit, bag lady.
But – why should I feel ashamed? It’s my money, my purchase. I understand that as you get older, your body changes and no one’s particularly excited to see Grandma in a string bikini. That means, I’ve got like what…another 50 years before condemned to tankinis and ruffle skirts?
I have to say this. Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to be told that forty is the new twenty, but we need to dress forty if we’re forty? Maybe that’s just me, but I think it’s very confusing. Frankly, I find other matters in my life confusing enough – like reading maps (I learn best by landmarks). Why make other aspects of our lives more confusing than they need to be? I’d rather be comfortable being me than drowning doing what I’m told. Swim or drown, beach-goers. Try to swim.