I used to love hanging out at the pool at Mom's seniors' apartment in Florida. In the company of a fun-loving crowd in their seventies and eighties, I, in my forties and fifties, felt fit and sleek. It's all relative.
Now I'm nearly 60, beginning to look like them, with spreading and softness and bits that exercise won't alter. They have become my role models. Aside from sunscreen, Mom's friends didn't cover up. They wore shorts, sleeveless blouses, halter tops.
Last week a forty-year-old friend lamented the arrival of spring, because her "loose" underarms would show in her tank tops. "I dread the summer", she said, "I feel like hiding."
I'd just returned from Florida, where I met older women at the beach every day. They looked at home in their aged bodies.
They are not are giving up or letting themselves go. They are just not going to obsess about perfection.
There's a point where you say, this is a beach, dammit, it's a sweet, sunny day. If my underarms jiggle or my varicose veins show, well, I'm walking at the ocean's edge, smiling at passers-by, watching a three-year-old leap into the waves, squealing with joy.