I want to walk through this city and get lost. The way I always used to. I don’t need you to worry. This journey is mine. My sneakers will wear thin. I will grow hungry and tired. I won’t care. I will have my camera, my journal, my books, my heart and my curiosity. I will go where the wind takes me. I will revel in each encounter and every vision put before me as I acknowledge it’s presence. It’s meaning.
I will walk and walk and walk…until I can’t possibly take another step. Then, I plan on resting my head somewhere. Anywhere. I don’t need fancy sheets. I don’t need pretty pajamas. I don’t even care if it’s comfortable. I will not notice as I slip into the kind of slumber one only does when they truly live in a day. With their eyes wide open and their bodies eagerly devouring every bit of energy surrounding them.
The air is dirty, the streets are filled with honking horns, people yelling at one another and an indescribable electricity pervading the atmosphere. The smell of warm nuts and hot pretzels permeate the narrow spaces. I squeeze through as we brush shoulders and make eye contact. For one second in time.
I have nowhere to be. I decide to try on hats. I love hats. I walk through a delightfully quaint antique store. It is filled with artifacts from periods way before my time. It is dimly lit and smells of history. It reminds me of an old bookstore I used to spend time in. You can hear stories being told through the walls. I see a distinguished man reading in his chair and the smell of tobacco from his pipe infuses the stagnant air.
As I proceed toward the rear of the store, I see a woman trying on glamorous vintage dresses. There are no dressing rooms. This doesn’t seem to bother her. She is cheerfully humming a tune as she strips her body of any coverage and delicately slips a purple gown over her head. I stop and stare. I could watch her for hours.
I feel guilty. Not because I am invading her space. This is space she clearly knows she is sharing with others. She is beautiful. She is probably around 75 years old. She doesn’t feel ashamed of her body. She is not bashful. No. She is free. Free in a way I’ve always wanted to be. She knows who she is and she doesn’t care if anyone else does. She is divine.
I decide to approach her. I compliment her taste and encourage her to get the gown. I then suggest that we must find somewhere for her to wear it. She is amused by me. She entertains the idea but on the condition that I find a dress there as well. She just stares. Looking me up and down. Waiting. It’s as if she knows of my distorted body image issues and unnecessary inhibition. She wants me to confront this. Right here and now.
I look at her and I just know…I haven’t a choice. Without skipping another beat, I unbutton my pants and let them fall to my ankles. With my foot, I boldly toss them across the floor. I lift my shirt over my head and after one little twirl around my finger, I fling it to the ground.
Here I am. Naked as the day I came into this world. Naked in a way you’ve never seen me before. I will not bend over and quickly cover all that I may find fault in. I will stand here like an impassive mannequin waiting for my next costume change. I will not giggle in fear.
I will stand before this stranger and my own reflection in the mirror and I will embrace what it is to be a woman. To be my Self. I will revel in the freedom of being completely exposed and vulnerable. In my skin. In my body. In this life.
…to be continued