This post has been inspired by the prompt given for #wickedWednesday by the lovely Marie Rebelle here and then prompted again by this tweet which appeared in my Twitter timeline retweeted by the equally lovely @aKerryCoo (which is pronounced Coooo in my head when I read it)
I think I will always be a late developer and this post will not change that by being several days late but I have more cause than usual to ponder this particular prompt as my 58th birthday is nearly upon me. Those of a literary bent can work out the specific date as that which Shakespeare tells us Julius Caesar was advised to beware and it has cast a shadow over my last month aged 57 that I have just become aware of.
I have an image in my head of a 20 year old girl in a bikini playing in the surf of a Greek island. Tiny dots sparkling around her as she dips her hand into the azure blue water. She has been married a year and her stomach is rounded and unmarked by the expansion and contraction that the 3 1/2 years worth of pregnancies she will later carry to term. Her breasts are puppyish in their pert fullness, her hips rounded and fertile, hair long and bleached blonde by the sun and grey eyes given a blue hue by the surrounding sea.
She is gorgeous and she does not know it.
As she walks along the beach dipping in and out of the incoming tide and watching her footprints mark and dissipate the ground shells beneath her feet she sees people looking at her and wonders what it is that is wrong with her that they are noticing. For she knows with a certainty that breaks my heart now that this is what they must be seeing.
Something wrong. Not beauty. Not youth or charm.
But something so wrong it marks her out and causes them to look.
If she chances to catch their eye to see attraction or appreciation there she is catapaulted into shame. She is married, she should not cause others to lust after her. She has done something wrong. It could not be other in her world and yet she notices that some around her wear bikinis that are mere triangles held on by string and they do not seem to carry the same sense of shame and wrongness about their bodies. Nor the obligation not to cause others to sin. She wonders how that could be and what is wrong with her that she does not feel that way too. She wonders why it is a sin for her and yet so obviously not for them. She wonders how they could not know it.
And now I look at the output from a photoshoot that I have recently taken part in. Aware of the same ghosts of those old attitudes and thoughts but much more threadbare and transparent now and without the power to harness me to a life or a relationship that seeks to make me small. I see a woman proud to uncover herself and her sensuality. A woman rounded and touched by age and experience.
A woman at peace with herself but not going gently into that good night.
At 57 I have wrinkles, I have silver hair, I have stretch marks and imperfections. I also have a wicked grin and twinkle in my eye and a confidence in my body that comes from an acceptance of myself and my sexuality. I have a bookshelf full of books and a hifi that plays vinyl. I have a table downstairs with two sewing machines set up and ready to go. I have music that I like on demand and a bed with a down duvet, feather pillows and egyptian cotton sheets. I have my four darling children, independent, astonishing and so, so loved.
At 58 I will have all those things and more. I will have a year of single life and freedom under my belt. A year of experiences and engagements with interesting people. A year of really working at loving myself first and foremost and seeing where that takes me.
I think again of that girl in the water and I wonder how different her life would have been if she had been taught to love herself first and to enjoy her body.
And then I turn on my music and dance like my hair is on fire.
eye March 2016