She had two tattoos. One on her shoulder and one near her tailbone. Nothing special. Just the swirly kind with a small rose on one and what looked like her boyfriend’s name on the other. Her post-pregnancy stretchmarks spanned out in rivulets across her lax, young belly, and she pressed the face of her blond toddler next to her own dark, Italian profile.
“Back in the pool,” she steered her baby into the water, standing confident in her teensy rainbow bikini, her smudged black mascara matching her hair and eyes.
Instead of watching my own babies, I wondered about her conspicuous skin disorder just below the left side of her fanny. I wondered other things too, like if she could give me a lesson on how to stand so confident wearing nothing more than three dots of lyrca in a swarm of strangers.
If my would-be moxy mentor wasn’t interested, at least 100 other unabashed females streaming through the water park, might be. They too proudly paraded the mortal map of their life for a peering public. Depressed or prosperous breasts, firm or fleshy middles spilling out over a single string of fabric, it didn’t matter. The more the exposure it seemed, the stronger the strut.
I smoothed my palm over the curve of my hip and felt like my grandmother in my one-piece swimsuit. Hugh spotted me and waved at me from the wade pool, our three girls clutching to his back laughing.
Did he think I looked grandmotherly? Of course not. (That was my last swimsuit).
And then I wondered. From where does this ease of self-exhibition arise? This exposure of every physical life detail? Could it be reality television? Tabloid news? The invention of the internet? Do these women hold a clue to confidence that eludes me?
I thought of my blog and I thought of my grandfather.
“How could you possibly publish your private thoughts to strangers?”
“It’s easier when it’s strangers, Grandpa.”
He shook his head.
And there you go. We each share our private lives in different ways. Some do so at the beach, others do so with the pen, and others do so by sharing a secret talent.
Metaphorically speaking, I will still wear my fabulous one-piece swimsuit here on my blog. And while I’m sometimes tempted to don the bikini and expose my most private thoughts, I’ve found it far more empowering to reserve such things for those who matter most.