Yesterday, I went to the beach without a bathing suit. No, I didn't wear my birthday suit; I simply donned shorts and a tee shirt. Amid a sea of sunbathers in swimsuits, I wore street clothes.
When I go to the beach, I sit under an umbrella, a cover-up over my swimsuit. I rarely venture into the water. I'm a poor swimmer, and I burn to a crisp, so the spot under the umbrella is a necessity for reasons of health as well as comfort.
Still, I love sitting on the beach, enjoying the sound and spray of the water, the view and atmosphere so different from that at home. To enjoy these things, I don't need a swimsuit.
But something about going to the beach in shorts and a tee shirt made me feel old, far removed not only from the teenagers in bikinis sporting piercings, tattoos and gorgeous tans. And you know what? I AM far removed from these teens. It is vanity to pretend otherwise.
As far as the looking different from the other swimsuit-clad adults goes, I have dispensation from a friend. I'm not yet a member of the Red Hat Society, but when I turned 40, a friend told me I'd reached the age where I no longer needed to apologize. And so as I approach my next milestone birthday, I find myself unapologetically doing the things that make me comfortable in my own skin, and turning away from the things I have previously felt obligated to do.
Oddly enough, looking at it that way makes me feel younger and freer than ever.