A circle of women on the beach doing magical things, and then, at dusk, when our gathering was done, two of us went in the lake.
We had talked about it hours before, but… you know… It was late, we had to get home, the water wasn’t going to feel that warm…
But she went in, wearing the minimum, so… (But even the minimum makes for a soggy drive home.)
As if I was at a junior high dance asking if anyone wanted to go to the bathroom with me (except not actually with that angst), I said, “Is it bad to be naked?” It was still quite light, after all, and the beach was public, and people’s houses weren’t that far away. I mean, it certainly wasn’t proper. Maybe my question was really, “does that matter?”
The consensus was no, it wasn’t bad. No, “virtue” didn’t matter. And because I’m not twelve or twenty-one or even thirty, I stripped off while they stood by, and went in.
It’s a real gift to be a woman with other women, and especially with women who are doing their own work, who have had kids and even raised them to graduation and beyond. There’s a self-consciousness that no longer exists, a vying that disappears– and what a relief, for a body to just be a body and not a merit badge. To not pass up the exquisite meeting of water and skin for the sake of some ever-shifting standard of herd acceptance.
And it was so good. So mild! Cold but not shocking. Swimmable. Delicious. Especially after sitting around a fire, especially after spending a week on tinder-dry west coast.
I had jokingly asked when we’d be having the full immersion baptism, but that’s actually important on the regular. It’s important to take everything off that you can and dive in as nothing but yourself and leave your so-called virtue on the shore. You can always try to squeeze back into it once you’ve emerged, dripping with your own joy and slippery as an eel– but I’m betting, eventually, you won’t.