Wearing a Bikini Is a Sate of Mind

It was a beautiful summer day day.  I was having another meeting with Abbey, my counselor. We were sitting in a park at a picnic table. The air had this particular summer texture in which the sound of children laugh travels in a very particular way. I could hear children laugh in the distance. The summer was in full swing and it was a wonderful time to be in Toronto.
I think it was a meeting when Abbey and I talked about how we narrate our lives, how we ourselves by thinking in particular way about our lives influence them. Then, I don’t know exactly what was the connection with the conversation -  I confessed o Abbey in a desperate manner that I had never had a bikini. I cried, I remember. A lot. I felt so sad about not a bikini in particular but I felt sad about myself: this young woman in my body who for all this time had felt not good enough to get herself a bikini and wearing it enjoy the sun on the beach. For years I had deprived myself of a wonderful feeling of bathing in the sun. I deprived my belly the pleasures of getting tanned. I didn’t feel I deserved a bikini and I felt the belly was too big to be exposed. I wasn’t good enough to be put in a bikini. Thinking and saying all these things to Abbey, I cried even more. The whole sea of tears of sadness about how badly I felt about myself. Abbey asked me to imagine myself being old and wrinkled, when my body will surely be not a pretty as at the age of 28. She asked me to imagine myself being this elderly woman who regrets things she has never done in her life – among these getting herself a bikini and enjoying the sun on the beach. At that time I was sobbing like a baby. Yes, I could see myself as this regretful person and I didn’t like what I saw.  I didn’t like it at all. At the end of the meeting with Abbey, I got an assignment. I was told to go to a shop and get myself the nicest bikini I could find and afford. Upon hearing this, I was hysterical – the sheer thought of going shopping for a bikini scared the life out of me.  How on earth was I supposed to do it? How was I supposed to put this imperfect round body of mine into a skimpy tops and bottoms? I felt it’s going to be disaster.
Marta helped me. I told Marta about my bikini assignment and next week we found ourselves in a shopping mall. I decided not to lament too much and find something. Oh, Marta was a blessing. She knew exactly what I was going through – she knew that it was quite a traumatic experience for me and she just was the most delicate person in the world. She told me: ‘I know exactly what you need and I know what you want to hide and what to expose’. It was very nice and technical without being too emotional about my inhibitions. I got this support from a woman, form a friend who understood. It was so true and full of understanding.
And we made it. We managed to find something that exposes something and conceals the rest. Yay!!! That day, on Marta’s balcony, I bathed in the sun for the first time in my life in my brand new bikinis.
As much as it was easy to undress in front of Marta, the next step was to go to the beach. I did. A week later or maybe sooner I bathed on the beach. And what? Nothing! Nobody screamed, nobody looked at me; nobody even paid attention that I was there. NOBODY. What is more, I felt wonderful. For the first time I felt rays of the sun on the areas of my body which had never been exposed before. I felt wonderfully warm and comfortable. The next step was to go swimming. I did. Oh, how wonderful it was do be touched by water, to be engulfed by it and feel it on body parts on which I had never felt it before. And then I had to get out of water and walk to my towel, and we know what we look like out of water… And nobody screamed again, nobody even paid attention that I was there. NOBODY. I felt comfortable.  I wasn’t ashamed of my body, however imperfect. I have started a new chapter in my life, the one which includes wearing bikinis and feeling good about myself.
Wearing a bikini is a state of mind. It’s the state of mind that allows me to feel comfortable. It’s the state of mind in which I am enjoying myself in my body. It’s the same state of mind which I have when I put on a pair of heels and I feel sexy and womanly. I am grateful that I have women in my life who helped me to discover this comfort and confidence. When I’m elderly and wrinkled I will have this memory of me bathing in the sun and swimming in water in a very skimpy bikini in my beautiful young body.


Canadian Fixation Explained Part 1

I was told some time ago that my bottomless love for Canada, especially for Toronto, is becoming or has already become for some, quite irritating. True. Sometimes when I say, yet another time:  ‘in Toronto this and in Toronto that, in Canada this, in Canada that’ I’m tempted to slap myself and hard. But the truth is that this love is probably the longest I have ever experienced – with problems, but still love.  So how has it all started?

It all has started in circa 1980, I think when my father’s sister and her husband pack up the family having made a decision about emigrating from Poland to the West. I cannot recall the details but after two years or so in Germany and Austria, or maybe only in Austria, my aunt, uncle and their kids, resettled in the oil fields of Alberta, in Edmonton.

Edmonton in Canada. Ever since I have started reading and since I have become capable of deciphering letters, I would read the Canadian address of my uncles with some sort of reverence. The names and surnames sounded familiar but all the rest was as exotic as spices from India. A strange name of the street, a post code comprising of mixture of latters and digits, the name of the city, province and the country. Oh, such sweet literature it was!!!

So much I knew about Canada at that time: that it was big, that it was better, that it produced the cutest two things I had ever had in my childhood. My grandma Anna went to visit her daughter and on her way back from the land of plenty, she brought a white teddy bear and a beautiful china music box for me. The teddy bear wasn’t just a teddy – it was my Canadian teddy, and so was the music box. Both items in a magical way connected me with this unknown world across the ocean. The teddy bear shared my bed with me for a very, very long time and in cases when it disappeared from my sight – I refused to sleep until it was found and brought back to me. It still resides in my house in Poland and has become a very old teddy who reminds me of very happy times. The music box has suffered some injuries throughout the years but it was always glued back and continues to play – though the melody has changed and has become filled with longing even more. So they are my childhood artifacts connecting me to the New World.

In Poland of the time when I was growing up, we didn’t enjoy the variety of products the Canadian population did. We would have a peek into this abundance though boxes filled with goodies from the West: parcels, which would arrive to Poland from Canada around Christmas of Easter. Parcels filled with bubble gum, lolly pops, maple syrup, Shake’n’bake, salad dressings and what not. All these commodities  in beautiful, colourful packages, with labels written not in one foreign language but TWO. Oh, how wonderful these parcels were!!!  How they played with my imagination, how I saw those shops filled with stuff. I can’t remember which year it was but it was certainly pre-cornflakes era in Poland. No cornflakes for us. I learnt about the existence of this good from one of the Canadian parcels. Kellog’s was its name. Frosty  was smiling from the box. I remember the texture of the box, the milky – murky colour of the plastic bag inside the box. I can recall the smell of the content, I clearly remember the sweetness of the flakes. I was aware of the scarcity of the product and so I used it only on special occasions. The box was mine and it was guarded in the pantry by magic spells and two dragons and whoever would be stupid enough to plunder, they would suffer terrible consequence of beheading and their heads would be on spike in from of the pantry. So nobody came even close to my magic cornflakes box. To my despair, though, I was not aware that these bloody things has the expiry date. One day when with my heart pounding I was just about to enjoy another serving of this delicacy, I discovered that whatever was left in the box went off and was covered with mold. And so my relationship with cornflakes tragically ended and I had to go back to boring porridge. I will not go into the details of using Shake’n’Bake or the orgasmic taste of Kraft Zesty Italian and Cucumber Salad or something of this name.

So much for Canadian processed food.

Then came electronics. It was in 1990 when I saw the first Sony Walkman. It landed on the Polish soil with my cousins and the rest of the family. It was their first visit to Poland since they left. They came in a plane but for me they might as well have arrived in a space ship. Indeed, it was like receiving arrivals from the outer space. They looked differently, they spoke a strange language and everything about them was different. Cooler - for me at least. My cousins must have been cool - they were from another planet after all. I was seven years old and I wanted to hang out with them but… at that time I was just a pain in the ass and we didn’t bond very much. But I remember the Walkman. It was yellow and waterproof. At that time in my house we received the radio waves on a wireless which at that time was seventeen years old, so quite old. A Walkman like this Sony thing was a state-of-the art technical miracle for me. And it basted the Queen’s Bicycle. Unforgettable. The Walkman left with Magda and Irek but the sweet memory still lingers.
Some time later my brother and I, or maybe my brother only, received a discman with out first CD – Oxygen by Jean Michelle Jar and Top Gun. I’m almost sure I’m right about Top Gun. The era of cds started in our household.  I didn’t see any more gadgets, I can’t remember laptops or notebooks but the Walkman and the discman I do remember and I do remember another crucial characteristic of theirs: they came from the Canada Planet.

My love to the country of the maple leaf had been getting bigger and bigger and bigger to find its outlet in the first trip to the North America in 2001.In my own eyes  I could finally see all these things I had been imagining about Canada. Oh, and disappointed I was not. It was just as I expected – big, and different and nobody walked anywhere, and kids were cool, and smoked weed. And everybody spoke English. And oh, West Edmonton Mall – just as it promised on the website – the mall was humongous with everything in it – an ice skating rink, a pirate ship, and a freaking artificial beach with real artificial waves. Luckily for me, I was at the age already when I could appreciate a bit more than malls  - the nature of Alberta swept me off my feet. Among other places my family took me to Jasper, Banff, and Saint Louise. I saw the Rocky Mountains and I swear that pieces of me have never returned from there. Never ever. 
My 2001 Canadian trip was also spiced up with a romance I had with certain James who I fell head over hill for and who had the sexiest eyes ever, whose name was James and who drove a truck. That was enough to fall in love with. And I did. I fell in love with James and with Canada both at the same time.

I had to leave both. It was the beginning of November. My backpack was packed and James came to say goodbye and it was a heartbreaking. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay and live there, and have my life there but I couldn’t. And so I came back to Poland filled with memories and dreams. For a year after that trip, every day I dreamt about Canada. Every day I was there – I was there where my heart truly belonged and belongs.

Ten years later I came back to Canada and for a year I lived in Toronto. Oh, yes… Toronto – another story for another time.

On the 20th of October, 2013 my Canadian-Polish aunt, Jadzia, died of lung cancer. I can’t express how sorry I am for her loss. She was a brave woman who left her comfort and went to seek a better life. She got me hooked on Canada. My aunt is not among us any more but she is in me every day: through my thoughts, and through my Canadian fixation. 
Dear Auntie, thank you for everything: for your Christmas and Easter cards, for your calls, for your visits, for your love.  You were one of the kind. Rest in peace.