Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shiny Happy People Everywhere

by Amy Ruhlin

I sat on the sands of a crowded South Carolina beach last weekend with an old R.E.M. song playing in my mind. I figured that everyone would assume I was listening to my iPod(don’t own one), as I bobbed my head to the beat, singing along with Michael Stipes: Shiny happy people laughing.Then I pretended I was Kate Pierson (of the B52s) as she joins in: shiny happy people holding haaaands. 
I don’t remember ever having so much fun people watching. The little kids were adorable, as little kids always are at the beach: baby girls in pink, tutu swimsuits; little dudes in swim trunks emblazoned with the eyes of Spiderman or with the “S” of Superman. Proud parents taking photos. A grown man running into the ocean like a 6-year-old boy, a beautiful fool: his legs like pumps, lifting his knees all the way up to his chest; his arms spread like wings on a plane; his smile covering most of his face. Meet me in the crowd. People, people. Throw your love around.

My daughter stretched out on her lounge chair to tan her 21-year-old body in a yellow bikini. I sat beside her on my beach chair in my black, one-piece swimsuit wondering why the hell I had stopped wearing a bikini in my mid-20s. I seem to remember that I thought my stomach was beginning to look old. Those words are as sad for me to write as they are for you to read.  
“Don’t stop wearing a bikini until you are at least 40!” I told her.

She grinned and turned herself over in her chair but I hope she heard me. I hope she wears a bikini until she is at least 65.

“Do you notice how happy everyone is?” I asked her.

“Everybody is always happy at the beach,” she said.
I knew that. But I noticed it now in a way that I never had before. It was a symphony laid out in front of me.  It was the sun and the sand and the waves turning us all into beautiful fools.

I heard laughter behind me. I knew before looking that it came from women my age. Five women who wore dark, one-piece swimsuits, their bikini days behind them. They played paddle ball like 12-year-old girls, arms flailing and mouths giggling. They ran into the ocean and I watched as they floated over the swells and hooted and hollered and waved their colorful, foam noodles in the air. They were stunning, all five of them. Everyone around, love them, love them. Put it in your hands. Take it, take it.
I’ve been happily going to the beach every summer since I was a child. But this time, here at the ripe old age of 51, with my bikini days behind me, and my eyes and heart wide open, was the happiest I’ve ever felt on a beach. I believe the saying that happiness increases as we age, is true.

I can’t wait to go to the beach again. I’ll be wearing my one-piece swimsuit and singing and looking like a beautiful fool. Happy, happy. Put it in your heart. Where tomorrow shines. Gold and silver shine.
Hey, here we go!


13 comments:

  1. Love these moments, when the stars seem to align and all is well. To be treasured and shared....just as you have done. Thank you.

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  2. Love it. Felt like I was there with you at the beach, all shiny and happy!

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    1. Thanks, Lori! Shiny and happy is good. :)

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  3. Love the video. Cool because (as I'm sure you know), both bands came out of Athens, GA.

    It's wonderful to let go of all those old expectations of looking a certain way and just BE. It's difficult, as a woman, to stop thinking of oneself as something to be looked at and instead just experience, watch, and enjoy. I'm happy to read that you were in and savored the moment.

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    1. My daughter goes to college in Athens. I visit as much as I can..love that town!

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  4. I could feel the sand and sun and also the regrets about giving up my bikini...what a beautiful story.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sharon.

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  5. I love watching people on vacation. It's easier now, too, that I don't need to keep my eyes on my own little ones. I haven't been to a beach in several years, but you made me long for the sand beneath my toes.

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  6. I live 20 minutes from a beach, and yet I never go. I need to remedy that! The beach, especially in the early morning hours, is so calm and peaceful. I need to go soon.

    I wasn't in good shape in my 20s. That is when I too switched to a one-piece. Fortunately, I got into incredible shape in my 30s, and out I went to buy bikinis. Now I need to get back into shape so I can pull them out again now that I'm in my 40s!

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  7. There is something about the beach and the ocean that just makes you feel good. I can relate to the feeling of euphoria you had. Lovely!

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  8. Oh it's raining here again, and the beach sounds so good! It is a fun, happy place especially if you live in Iowa! I still wear a bikini but I keep a sarong close by. Thanks for taking me away for a little while, Amy.

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  9. I believe the saying that happiness increases as we age, is true.

    So true! I still wear a bikini. Mostly because I have trouble wearing a one piece, being as tall as I am. But I would be just as happy at the beach in a one piece!

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  10. Just posted this on my facebook page - lovely and so true! Beautifully written - just loved it!

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