I do not yet know I will get stuck in the cute strapless dress that I wear over my swimsuit as a cover-up. Thankfully, I realize this bind early on in the nudging it down process before things get awkward.
Settling back in my lounge chair ~ sans sunglasses, which remain on a window ledge in my studio in Virginia ~ I pull the long skirt of my dress up to my thighs, exposing legs to sunlight. I appreciate that the promotional swag collected by my husband during his morning work session includes sunscreen.
I choose a seat in the beach sand section. It is mostly empty, and I sit at the end of a row. A large group appears and begins settling in place, claiming chairs around me. Though I have my new earbuds in, I can hear the chatter.
Conversation grows loud. The gist of it is that there are not enough seats for everyone in this group. There are now towels stacked on the chairs around me. I begin to feel crowded and claustrophobic. Uninvested in my spot, stuck in my cover-up dress, I sit up and slide on my sandals.
This happens in the time it takes to listen to one song.
Are you all together? I ask.
Yes. We are all cottage owners. But you don’t have to leave. Seriously. The response is matter-of-fact tinged with kind.
I don’t mind. I’m not invested in this spot. Is this section reserved?
I ask because of the speed at which people are appearing and the intensity of the seat-claiming. I feel as if there is something I missed.
No. No. No. Are you a cottage owner?
Really. You don’t have to leave. There’s just a big group of us cottage owners . . . The voice trails off distractedly looking around, assessing the current seating status.
Knowing that I want to straighten out my cover~up situation in the bathroom, I graciously excuse myself. Also, I am not sure if I want to be in the sand, after all, or surrounded by a crowd. A teenager in the group addresses me kindly, attempting a conversation.
Are you here with family?
I’m with my husband on a work trip.
Winding up the wires to my earbuds and zipping them into their case, I rise.
You don’t have to go.
Thank you. I know.
Smiling, I leave for the restroom, seeking the privacy of a stall where I can extract myself from the dress covering my body. I begin the wrestling which borders on panic as I try to remove a garment that refuses to budge down over my hips or up past my bustline.
Years ago this was a breeze. Same dress. Same swimsuit. It is another reminder of my midlife body’s changing shape.
Must. Get. This. Off, Now.
Sparing further imagery, I get it off, but not without much agony. I walk to the opposite pool, the one surrounded by concrete, not sand. I choose a safe-looking chair away from others and sit down. I take out earbuds, once again, to listen to Audrey Assaad’s latest work, Peace.
My body is changing. On my yoga mat I set the intention to tend it with steady care.
Looking at it.