How do we love ourselves, let me count the ways

 

Fortunate am I in having had a mid-day’s excursion to Coney Island this summer that is passing so swiftly now (and did you know its name comes from the many rabbits that used to populate the dunes? It’s true). For me, it’s an easy delight to drift from the subway station onto the boardwalk and sand, walking in reverie of days imagined and gone by; the Cyclone still creaking terrifyingly along, women in their woolen bloomers walking the towline into the sea to bathe up to their shins and now, I, fancy free to do what I will for the day.

This exquisite summer day, the beachfront was packed with modern type folk of all shapes, sizes and dispositions, though, upon reflection, the Williamsburg set maybe ought to take up the 20’s bloomers look sooner than later. Looking back at the iconic rides, the faint trill of barkers on the boardwalk, bodybuilders showing off on the metal bars, Frisbee players kicking up sand sprays, shirtless, older men with metal detectors, countless children running with abandon or fright into and out of the surf, bikini clad young women necking with girlfriends, families with hugely elaborate set ups to lug across the sand, old men escorting much younger women staring at their phones, a full spectrum of color and possibility. The world comes to Brooklyn and it’s as seductive as anything I have ever seen.

I enter slowly; it is a pilgrimage, a home coming, a full sensory experience to show up and inhale. I walk, crawl, skip and hop in my yogi way from dry sand to teasing line of ocean front.  All I have is this time and I won’t be back for awhile.

Resting on the surface of the salty water, my buoyancy was such that I envisioned falling straight up into the sky in a moment of heedless jubilation. My feet sank down and my head back up so that I might peer shoreward, inspecting from a floating distance my backpack’s continued turtle like nature. I had flown in on a red eye from Albuquerque and all my relevant objects were in that one bag; other days it was biking down Ocean Parkway to the beach or driving down the same with a young nephew in tow that necessitated that look back. There are no lockers at Coney Island.

Here, I immerse myself in people watching; the sellers with water bottles in plastic bags, softly rounded women pushing carts of ices, dressed for a cooler season and tinkling with bells, and the miraculous appearance of the Nutcracker salesman and his merrily named, fluorescent colored drink concoctions: “Call a Cab, Kick in the Nuts, Purple Motherfucker”, etc. My people on the ground tell me one can now have a Nutcracker delivery guy for home enjoyment- oh Brooklyn; you have so many wares and all for sale. I rejoice like Whitman at these small ecstasies, the audacity to shout such things over the heads of grandmothers and see bills bob up, fishing for intoxication.

And as I bobbed and floated and swam like the fish I mostly wish to be, I pondered: what if we all are beautiful as is, these supposedly brave or unabashed souls who strut out and let their flesh show so that they might enjoy the day unencumbered, what if we really feel our beauty in our uniqueness and let drop the story lines and judgments against ourselves and one another and just play free?

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