Friday, July 20, 2007
Sunnin' and Funnin'
I saw this image and decided I had to use it in a blog entry and this was supposed to be about being safe and sexy in the sun. It reminded me of the first and only time I got sunburned to the point of excruciating discomfort. I was in college. I went down to Puerto Rico with a friend and did what we always did back there-- slathered on some Johnson's baby oil and sat on the beach looking young and fly. My first time out of the country too. No body mentioned that the sun is slightly stronger down yonder. I got burned from my eyelids to my toe nails and everything in between. The trip home was a nightmare as anything that touched my body--threads even--hurt like hell. Never again, I promised myself and unlike my promise to give up Dunkin' Donuts, I kept that promise.
But as I sat down to write all that came to mind is the last time I visited a nude beach--Orient Beach in St. Maarten, July 2005--to pinpoint my last venture au naturale. And that led me to think about the first time I'd ever tip-toed out to a nude beach--the same beach in 1986 on my honeymoon. And that got me thinking about all the years that have gone by in between--oh hell, let me start from the top.
My husband and I went to St. Maarten on our honeymoon. I was a young, nubile newlywed of 26 married to a curious, very adventurous younger man who has always had a great body and has never been afraid to show it. It was his idea to check out Orient Beach, and though I was feeling a bit shy about the whole thing I agreed. Of course, the man was out of his clothes in the parking lot! I had to laugh--even back then I was about going with the flow (though frankly, I had no intention of taking off my swimsuit). We ambled down to the beach, which was surprisingly empty. All the better. While I stripped down to my bikini and set up our picnic, my husband walked down to the shoreline to check out the surf (okay and to let me check him out!) and then proceeded to make himself comfortable on the blanket in the sand.
Then the parade started and I realized we were an anomaly on this stretch of clothing optional sand.
It began with a heavyset man whose stomach provided a sunscreen for his privates (you get the picture and it wasn't pretty!). Next a tall, skinny couple, where everything on both of them was hanging and swinging in the ocean breeze. They proceeded to frolic in the surf, hot, happy and naked as jaybirds. Right there I realized that this was no St. Tropez. No Rio di Janiero. No exquisite bodies oiled up and oozing sex. Matter of fact, Craig and I were the only hot bodies to be seen.
That knowledge and a little prompting led me to remove my top. A few hours later, with the realization that nobody gave a damn and a little more spousal prompting, off came the bottoms. But even with the best body on that land (and when the hell would that ever happen again?) and my man by my side, I still didn't feel truly comfortable in my skin' and before I wound up with some wacky tan line--one hand print on my upper arm and one on my thigh--I closed my eyes, turned over and let my butt take all the heat. Still, I had to admire the fact that these old folks were oblivious to their imperfections or my judgemental eyes. They were just enjoying the sun and surf in their birthday suits--wrinkled and worn as they might be. I had to applaud their daring.
Fast forward twenty years. I'm back on Orient Beach, this time all by my lonesome, blissfully minding my own business, editing my book, and enjoying the sun kissing my naked body (okay this is actually part two of the red bikini story I wrote about in May.) I was full frontal and didn't give a damn who saw (Okay, in full-disclosure, I did take a little time to position body parts so they weren't slipping under my armpits and my stomach appeared flatter than it actually was. And okay, even in my late 40's I was still among the youngest and most fit bodies on the beach, amazing how much the 70 plus crowd likes to strut around nekked.) But the huge, most telling difference was that I was relaxed and enjoying myself because unlike when I was a young newlywed, I'd taken the sex out of this adventure and was simply enjoying the sensuality of the experience. I had no worries about being judged as a sexual object and the only bodies I noticed were the occasional, fully clothed, twenty somethings ambling down the shore trying not to gawk and laugh at us old-timers happily enjoying nature in the buff. They were curious about the idea of a nude beach but not courageous enough to experience it. I had laugh as I thought back to myself at their age. Age does bring wisdom and courage and a spectacular "I don't give a damn, deal with it" attitude that goes along way in making like more enjoyable and a hell of a lot less stressful.
So what's the point of this rambling set of memories? First, I'm not proud of the fact that my comfort level ebbs and flows only by comparison. Even I have yet to master the lesson 100% of the time that being myself, exactly the way I am, is fabulous and can never be wrong. Secondly, whether it's a nude beach, taking a trip without your spouse or painting your toenails and fire engine red, occasionally challenge yourself to do something daring and outside of your comfort zone. Only then will you recognize how much fuller and funner (I know it's not grammatically correct--I should say more fun, but I like the way fuller and funner sounds) life can be when you are brave and adventurous. And lastly, wear sunblock every time you leave the house. Keep that birthday suit healthy and wrinkle free just in case Orient Beach or some other naked adventure comes up in your travel plans!
What do you think?