I am sitting by the pool admiring my own navy toenails, the big nail on each foot aglitter with a tri-color firework. I think, I may keep a firework on those two nails from here on out forevermore.
The people gathered here are embracing their own form of freedom. Two men are worth a second look; one a good long gaze. Virtually every woman is busting out of her swimsuit in some unfortunate way, none of which seems to effect our collective and independent joy of sun, water, and a calendar with nothing on it but this.
Everyone here so far is white and most continue to apply lotions and oils that promise a savage tan even though we know it might kill us in a painful ugly way. Gazeman came near me to get in the water. He is older than I originally thought, which speaks to why we all want a tan. It looks handsome before it looks awful and we are not a people fond of holding out for the long-term result.
Everyone but me has at least one easter-egg colored foam noodle — those things that help one float when bent in various ways to uphold our frames. Noodles are one of the few non-biodegradable items that seem worthwhile.
One buxom woman wears a bikini that is navy bottoms and a top that spangles one breast in stars and the other in stripes. She wears it well. I imagine myself saluting her in a “go big or stay home, sister” way. The slimmest woman here wears the most modest suit — the kind with wide shoulder straps and skort bottoms in a pale turquoise. Her hair is short, likely the color she was born with; over it she sports a white visor. Her sunscreen is probably a 50 spf.
In the middle of the pool, a barmaid-type with smokers’ voice and floral bikini bottom is engaged in storytelling to three men all perched on the side listening to her deeply-tanned abundant cleavage.
Neon Pink Suit walks by and says to me, “Look at you…writing!” as if I am mid-marathon. Still I smile.
Only one, Shademan, remains cuffed to his smart phone under the canopy, scrolling with his index finger in the way we know means he is looking for something more interesting than here.
An olive-skinned woman joins us. Her smile is one of relief. She sits, toes in the water hands folded in her lap, T-shirt over orange sari, over her suit, sandals within reach. A Grandboy walks near her, happy and wet, and still she urges him kick your feet. He raises them from the shallow floor and kicks.
Across the deep end now, the Like A Rock section gathers. The high school set is trying hard to look casual in their flag-inspired Urban Outfitter digs. The boneless 20-somethings lounge in muted t-shirts and understated shorts, sipping undercover beverages from reusable plastic tumblers with lids.
Another grandboy joins the first one, who is now in the deep-end, near the rope that separates the shallows of the free from the depths of the brave. Grandma gently reminds him to be careful. He exchanges a wicked glance with his new friend, hooks his toes under the rope, and lies back in the water his arms outstretched.
The barmaid finishes her baudy story with an inviting belly-laugh. Her audience of men laugh too.
Above us all, a full-sized flag waves from an empty balcony.
And Gazeman looks at me from the water, from behind the safety of his RayBans, and offers me a barely perceptible nod.
And I smile.