Jordan's employers gave her enough time away from her workstation last week to get out and about, which meant a few pictures and videos on social media as she tried to learn to surf like a real California girl - she really seems to be having a ball!
After one which was just her kind of just lying on a surfboard in her bikini, leg dangling over the side, I DMed her saying I didn't know how she was able to do that with such confidence - Calvin had invited me to go with him to the beach for a few days and was a nervous wreck. She says it's no big deal, especially if you've got something like surfing or whatever going on instead of just sitting there, and it's not like we didn't used to go shirtless. Sure, I say, but it's different when you've got stuff hanging out rather than the bits that needed covering being safely in the middle of some baggy trunks. She asks if I've been slacking off some we stopped going to yoga together, and since I got that message while changing for the climbing wall, I send her a selfie. See, she says, I've got nothing to be ashamed of.
Believe it out not, I'm inclined to agree. It's taken me something like four years to really feel good about this body, but I'm really confident these days. My boobs are finally back down to their pre-pregnancy size, which is not always easy to deal with, but I'm kind of forgetting what flat feels like. I've also become kind of a gym rat, not just from climbing with Calvin, but also going with Momma Kamen - her doctor told her to make some changes, but because she's apparently been the type who prioritized looking after her family more than herself (and burned what calories she needed to by running after kids and grandkids), she won't think to hit the gym unless Klara or I go with her. So we do - well, I do, mostly, with Auntie Klara watching little Moira - and now she's got a lot more stamina and I've got abs.
Not the sort of chiseled six-pack I wanted as a teenage boy, of course, but enough that I don't look scrawny. My legs are really toned, too, and arms have some real definition. I don't look masculine, and Calvin will attest that I don't feel that way (and, yeah, maybe getting a little better at the giving and receiving physical pleasure also has me feeling better about my body). I've found a hairstylist who gives me a natural look that I like, and I've even started wearing the tops that show a bit of cleavage at work. I guess feeling like I've made my body a certain way makes me a little more comfortable using it rather than hiding it. I even got a kind of warm feeling when the original Krystle made a comment about my muscles being gross on Facebook; I'm never not going to feel guilty about taking this life from her, but it makes me feel more like myself and not an imitation.
So, like Jordan says, I've got nothing to be ashamed of, but I still get some anxiety around Calvin's successful white friends, and being more or less in my underwear didn't feel like it would make things easier. But it has been a really hot summer, and the pictures he showed off the little cottage his family had on the Cape looked nice. Completely un-cursed, too, although that didn't really enter my head until someone asked me when the last time I went to the beach was. It looked like a good time, so why not?
It was a big surprise for Moira, who has never been to the beach before. She wasn't thrilled with getting into her car seat - she's a city girl who expects to either be carried or in a stroller (or tries to run up and down the subway cars) and this thing where she gets strapped in and faces the back of the car while Mommy and Calvin are up front for an hour or more is some garbage as far as she's concerned, even if she does eventually fall asleep. For as crazy as the terrible twos can make you, though, there are also the moments when you get her out of the car and take her around back of the house and her eyes go wide, and then she turns around and says "Mommy, it's a sandbox with no box!" Then she runs to the water and giggles when it's cold on her feet.
In no time whatsoever, she's letting me change her into a bathing suit and excited about the bag of new plastic beach toys. She's kind of impatient while I change, which gives me relatively little time to really fret about how even a pretty modest one-piece exposes half my butt cheeks. Well, never I never complained about seeing that sort of thing before, and I could throw on some shorts if need be.
Moira loves the beach; she'll dig in the sand and splash and pick up the wet sand by the water and just throw it back at the ground for hours. After a while we blew up a floatie and that, also, was the best. Being part of that is amazing in a way that's hard to explain, and it made Calvin smile too. My girl is amazing.
She crashed after a few hours, and I got a chance to stroll down the beach while Calvin tried to put the fire pit his father bought together. The change from the city was something I didn't really know I'd needed, but the sound of the waves and them lapping at my feet was kind of beautiful. Of course, during the summer, you're not really going to be alone, and a three-year-old crashed into me a few houses down. His mom came over to apologize, but lot up when she heard my name. "You're Cal's girlfriend! He's said so much about you! I'm Annalise; he's been my summer neighbor since we were nine."
We chatted for a while, until her husband came out and gave me a weird look, like I didn't belong in a place with summer neighbors. I headed back "home".
Despite Annalise's skepticism Calvin did manage to get the fire pit together, and actually grilled some acceptable steaks and baked potatoes with it, though Moira was initially skeptical about his insistence that he burned the hot dogs he made for her on purpose.
After she went down for the night, we sat out on the porch, and I mentioned meeting Annalise, saying she seemed nice. He said he had been looking forward to introducing all his friends the next day but Annalise was definitely the one to meet first. I mentioned that, seeing as this was his parents' place, there seemed to be other people for me to meet, but didn't push too much. He's meet Momma Kamen and Klara, but not my real family, so I can't really demand more.
I murat have looked a bit tense after that, because he asked me if something was bothering me as we went to bed, but that wasn't it. This was the first time we were sharing a bed while Moira was in the next room. He asked if that meant we should be quiet, but I pointed out that we'd tired her out pretty good.
When getting ready to go to the neighbor's the next day, I saw with a bit of dismay that I had spilled some wine on the swimsuit I'd worn the previous day, and with no time to wash it, that meant going with the bikini. That one is bright green, tends to squish my breasts together, and has dangling ties that I was sure Moira would pull on in just the right way to get me in trouble given half a chance. A pair of shorts and a loose t-shirt covered it up quick, and who knows, maybe I could just stay in that all day.
It was not to be; I made it a couple hours, but then Moira was like "come swim, mommy!", and you can only put up a fight so long, especially in front of other parents, so off comes the outer layer, and then it's time to ignore the jokes about "so that's why Cal's hooking up with a single mom!"
I try to smile like a good sport, making it about the work I've put in rather than what I've stolen in my head. I say under my breath that people used to pay money to see this body naked so they're lucky to see this much for free, but not too loud, because there's no need for Calvin and his friends to think of me that way, especially when it wasn't me.
It's just a couple people, though, and the kids make it easy to put that out of my head. Annalise apologizes for the boys being idiots, and says she's jealous of Moira being so fond of the water - her boy is about a year older but still scared. I say that's just Moira; she's generally fearless, probably from spending so much time around her cousins and trying hard to keep up.
It wasn't that much of a pep talk, but it's not like she knew I needed one or that I'd be watching her as we got out of the water and noticing that she walked around like wearing a bikini on a beach was no big deal. I've got to admit, it felt kind of nice to actually feel the sun and breeze on my upper body, and I was able to eventually work my way up to running around or playing volleyball without worrying that stuff would fall out.
Without a nap, Moira crashed hard when we got back to the house, and so did I, which means we didn't have much time to talk. Sunday wasn't really a big day for discussion either, as we went into town to eat at this clam shack that Calvin probably thinks is twice as good as it actually is because he associates it with summer vacation, along with some frozen custard that actually was pretty great. Moira saw a kite in a shop window, so we got to discover that none of us know anything about flying kites before packing up the car and heading back to Boston.
Once Moira was napping, I turned to Cal and tried to give a playful smile that girls who don't have a bunch of impossible secrets wear. "So, did you and Annalise ever hook up? She was really nice to me but who you're dating seems kind of important to her."
"What? No! She's actually more my sister's friend, and that would have been weird."
"Uh-huh. So, do they think you dating me is weird, or am I okay?"
"Like I care what a bunch of people I see one weekend a year thinks of who I date."
That was kind of nice to hear. "Well, I'm sorry if I was weird. I just feel like I don't know what to do most of the time. Like, I want to be more fun, especially when we're out together, but don't know how."
He looked a bit uncomfortable. "Is this because you and I, uh..."
"Because we're different? Nah. It's all me." Am I bad for liking how flustered he gets when he has to stop and consider how being white and coming from a family who can afford a vacation home can put me on the spot? Because I kind of do like it. It makes me think he might do okay if he wound up at the Inn and had to live a different life for a while.
"Well, it just so happens that girls who love sports, don't know how sexy they are, and are great moms are just my type."
I smiled and laid my head on his shoulder, not sure when I really started liking the sound of stuff like that rather than playing along, and let him drive us home in warm silence.