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Let’s Vacation July 23, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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I had forgotten how saltwater effects my ears but, for the first time in years, the hearing in my left ear has returned. And so as my children squabble over the television channel, space on the hotel bed, and the hot tub, I can hear every octave of their shrieks and even their mutterings.

It’s currently almost ten o’clock at night and the children are finishing a long day with a dip in the hotel’s indoor pool. Well, two of them are anyway, my fourteen-year old daughter, having espied a good-looking boy with a mohawk in the hot tub, has decided she’d like to swim after all and has gone back to our room to change. After a short period of time she returned clad in her yellow bikini with her hair nicely combed.

My ex and I then began a conversation about the dating ritual and concerns of youngsters. My ex, Ben, referred to the kids (teenagers and all) as “carefree”, to which I replied  “who, in that room, is carefree?” My argument being that a 14-year old girl is extremely sensitive to her expression, hair, laughter, outfit, swimming technique — every nuance of behavior matters. That’s not carefree — that’s all care.

And then Ben says how silly that is because guys that age don’t particularly care about any of that. She’s cute and that’s the be-all, end-all. He says the majority of men, as well, are this way. Good to know, I say.

It was nice, though, that we were all completely unconcerned with all nuances of behavior (other than behaving in a socially acceptable manner, that is) at the beach today. I didn’t even notice other women being particularly concerned with their persons. What I noticed, instead, were the families building poorly constructed sandcastles, flying kites shaped as hawks, and wading deep into the intense waves slamming to shore. The temperatures remained in the nineties, a lovely change from the over-100-degrees for three weeks weather back home, and the breeze remained constant.

My son, upon his first experience with the ocean, deemed it acceptable entertainment in his 6-year old mind with the exception of all that pesky salt in the water and, therefore, perhaps the hotel pool was better. Kids. My 11-year old daughter has outdone herself in remaining positive and atop our non-schedule. Directly after dinner tonight she, my son, and Ben went outside to be free of the arctic air conditioning system of the hole-in-the-wall we found, and my 14-year old and I sat inside, eating ice cream and discussing the benefits of moving to the coast.

We decided it was difficult to judge the benefits because it’s easy to enjoy a vacation spot when you don’t have to work or go to school because then there’s no stress or responsibility really. But if we moved to the coast, the stress and responsibility would simply follow us to the coast and then…would we still enjoy the coast better than home? It was too difficult to decide so we simply finished our ice cream, pondered the intensity of the waves some more, and then stepped out into the ocean air.

Your Face/My Face July 6, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People.
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Several days ago I took my children to the local water park. It was a hot day filled with an over-abundance of roiling heat, noisy children, and a crush of bodies. The water park provides a lap pool, which I utilize, and a pool for small children — both indoors. Outside there is a lengthy lazy river pool, a children’s water playground, and four ridiculously tall, curving slides. After my children abandoned me to one of the aforementioned delights, I sat on my towel and grabbed my latest read: Discovering Roswell. I slipped my finger between the pages held by my bookmark and took one last glance around the water park, searching for the familiar blonde heads of my children. I didn’t see them but wasn’t alarmed and, instead, my attention was diverted by something else.

Women.

Anyone who has ever gone to a water park, local swimming pool, the lake, or the beach, has seen women aplenty running amok in their swim suits. Because stores vie for the most sales during the swim suit season there are plenty of colors, designs, and patterns. Such variation. But, again, this is not what truly caught my attention. I noticed the swim suits, sure, but what I really took note of was the behavior exhibited by these women.

For instance the smiling brunette with the long legs and bright red bikini providing standard coverage. Her legs dredged through the calf-high kiddy playground as she moved from one side to the next where she met some alarmingly attractive man. The man isn’t the point. Or maybe he is. Amid the joyful screaming of the children, the multitude of water-spraying canons, the heat, the crush of bodies — the brunette moved confidently. Her arms swung at her sides as though forgotten and they certainly weren’t used to cover this spot or that spot — some seemingly flawed portion of her body only she could see. (as is the way). She was confident.

Then there was the tiny, big-breasted blonde lying in the shallow side of the kiddie playground with her arms stretched behind her to prop her body forward as she sunbathed. This one wore practically nothing but the practically-nothing was white and cute. She knew it. It’s possible no one paid her any attention whatsoever but judging by the way she held her body — stiffly with unnatural angles caused by her legs and head (meant to show to the best advantage) — she thought everyone was watching her.

Someone was watching her. An overweight woman with long red hair curled up into a bun on the very top of her head. The red-haired woman chose not to wear sunglasses that day and her squint only emphasized the other creases in her face. The bathing suit she chose was probably suitable, probably respectable, but it didn’t look right on her at all. The plain brown one piece was covered with baggy beige shorts, meant to provide additional covering where the woman deemed necessary. She glanced at the woman in white and then pretended not to glance down at herself before moving away to some shady spot where her towel waited for her.

There were more of them but instead of my minute inspection of each and every one I began to sort of…catalog them. The ones who wore skirts with their suits. The ones who wore one-pieces versus two-pieces. The ones whose arms behaved like darting shields to cover bits of their bodies as they walked. The ones who walked as though they wore a business suit and had no fear.

And then I thought. How different would we be, self-consciously, if everyone looked exactly the same? If each of the women in that water park had the exact same face and the only real concern we had for whether anyone liked us or not, was related only to our personality? You would know if you were liked, or loved even, just for being you. And only for that reason. There’s a kind of security in such an idea. I appreciate individuality and uniqueness in people and especially in myself. But I wonder how different we would be, how different our relationships would be, if the only thing to be seen was what you couldn’t see?