I’d forgotten that life is an adventure and a journey until my older sister called me into the chilled Atlantic Ocean yesterday, inviting me to dance with the seals. Their sleek heads bobbed like mink on the ocean’s surface, before disappearing into the magic water world that they inhabit. “Clutching my pearls” is how one gay friend describes my reticent sexuality. Perhaps reticent is not the correct adjective, not the right vibe. My sexuality has been stunned into silence after choosing several lethal partners with emotional problems too deep to fathom. Maybe the playful seals have the answer, I thought, as I bared my overly white flesh to autumn’s forgiving sun.
I don’t recall having seen my sister naked before. I watched as she frolicked before me, just out of reach, with the splendor and vigor of a much younger woman. I admired how her body curved in definitive and forgiving ways that did not acknowledge or salute the years that could have weighted her beautiful body. Her dark head, sleek with salt water, bobbed beneath the surface as she encouraged me to embrace the experience.
I’ve been waiting for the right lover. I’ve been waiting for the right moment. The passage of more than forty years weighed heavily on me as I decided not to let another opportunity pass. The water tingled and exhilarated my flesh as it sluiced playfully between my breasts and legs. I laughed into the sun and tried to race with the seals who remained visible, but out of reach. I felt present and completely alive in that moment. I could have trod my familiar path of regret, worn and dulled by a gray unforgiving patina. Rather than mourning the partner who hasn’t materialized, the job offer that I haven’t gotten, the life that my younger self envisioned – I embraced the moment and felt more truly alive and grateful for my body than I have felt for decades.
I saluted my younger self who looked on with embarrassment but also with a hint of pride. My younger self was too aware of her beauty with a self-consciousness that belied her years. I forgave my no longer flat stomach and the fullness of my breasts. I was grateful for the weekly hours in the gym that allowed me to run on toned and muscular legs to the sea – the forgiving and gracious sea – that sings a steady rhythm that I can count on – even when all else is fleeting.