Dear Lady at the Beach:
I hope you made it safe and sound back home with your doggo, Max, in your really nice black car. It was a pleasure to meet you and I have to say this is more of a thank you note than a letter.
That tiny dot in the photo, that’s you.
First, thank you for actually voicing a compliment to me when I walked by you on the beach rather than keeping it to yourself because you didn’t know me at all and strangers, for the most part, keep thoughts to themselves.
Thanks for engaging with me. I was beaching and camping alone and so were you. You were the perfect tangible example of what I could be in 20 plus years. Still living a good life, still camping, still enjoying the sun and the water, not waiting for anyone to join me, not tethered or being held back by fear.
I love the bravery you had in sharing your age and telling me you were alone without worry of judgement. Maybe you did worry I’d judge you but that didn’t stop you. Your hilarious stories trying to remember what point in life you were and measuring it against men you were dating at the time and your talk of looking and feeling like a Mob Boss Wife in your black car was hilarious.
Sharing some of your longings was pretty special too, reminding me that even in our senior years we have desires and want someone to grab our face and kiss it with passion. You wondered if you might be closer to death for thinking and reminiscing about love and desire and I assured you that those feelings happen at all ages.
Thanks for sharing stories of being kissed by Harry Belafonte 40 years ago, and dealing with children and marriage at a young age and making it through and somehow always being a nurturer. I could see your gorgeousness through your style and your pearl white smile and imagined you as a thirty year old, likely too hot to handle but probably, like most of us, not aware of it.
But mostly, when you said you wished you could skinny dip again but didn’t think it was appropriate anymore and I said “fuck appropriate, do it!!!” and you giggled and huffed a smiley “no I can’t!!” and then sat it silence. You pondered that for a long while didn’t you? Life is meant to be lived right to the beautiful end.
There was no one on the beach, just the two of us. Finally the next day after more talk you finally asked: Angie, if I go in the water and take off my swimsuit but can’t get it back on will you bring me a towel?” My thrill for you over flowed! And the answer was a resounding yes! There you were, breaking the walls of should and doing what made you feel happy, free and young—at 73 years old. I watched you wade into the lake with your rainbow coloured flutter board. Once you were shoulder deep (which at this lake is really far) I heard a squeal and a laugh and a woo-hoo echo over the water. You did it good woman! You did something others would judge but you did it because you wanted to have a moment of aliveness, joy, excitement!
This is the thank you for the reminder that life is meant to be lived, to be experienced (maybe with some hesitation, sure) and we are meant to be happy no matter the age.
P.S. I never did ask—was it hard to get your bathing suit back on?