I think a lot about what it is to feel free.
Like drifting slowly through soft pink sunlit clouds. Effortless. Weightless. No tension in the thick muscles of my neck and shoulders. My spine elongated, my limbs extended and my fingers outstretched. If there’s resistance I don’t feel it. I just simply am.
I think the closest I get to what I think this might feel like is when I’m in the ocean. I love the way the cold Pacific waves crash against my wide, sturdy body, the way the water glides up my curves and out towards everyone else around me. I wrap my short, chubby arms around the boy I am with and laugh each time we get hit by a wave much larger than we expected. When I feel brave I go deeper and let myself get swept up in the sea like a feather in the wind. I re-emerge and my skin is wet and warm and salty, and even three days later it smells like the sun.
I feel free. I feel free.
Back on the shore I sit with some of my closest friends, eating jicama and mango with tajin and lime, munching on freshly made chicharrones and taking turns drinking booze out of a metal water bottle. Our bodies are adorned with salt water, sand, and golden mica, making each dimple and roll glitter in the late afternoon sunshine. Even though my best friend is a little distracted by her girlfriend and one of my friends is too stoned and grumpy to function, I am at peace.
I take a deep, relaxing breath and look at everyone gathered beside me. I look out at the water where even more of us are out getting one last dip before the sun goes down. We are the most beautiful mermaids. Fat and unapologetic, we take up space in sea and on land. I see twenty-five fat bellies, double chins, dimpled asses and wide, open-mouthed grins.
Some of us have never been like this before, nearly naked and fat in public. Arm-in-arm, we protect each other from gaping stares and the heartless laughs of insecure 14-year-olds. I honestly don’t even know if there were any this time, because I was too much in the moment to care.
I felt free, I felt free.
Of course everything comes to an end, and soon I am back on pavement and exhausted, my muscles tired and my skin beginning to glow lobster red (I live alone now, so I can’t get the sunscreen everywhere it needs to go on my own). Just a little more than 24 hours later and I’ll be in that aforementioned boy’s bed, crying and hurting and wishing so hard I could go back to how it was the day before at the beach.
I wish I could feel that free all the time.