Halfway through a sleeve of Thin Mints, I noticed the article I’d been skimming was titled: Get Your Beach Bod On. What kind of cruel joke is it that Spring Break and Girl Scout Cookie season collide?
I read on, devouring the editor’s picks for sunblock, salted sprays for beachy hair and of course, exercises that welcomed bikini-wearing. The article was accompanied by photos of a flawlessly toned trainer — in full makeup — demonstrating plank holds for strengthening my core and go-to moves to combat cellulite. I slid my over indulgent snack across the marble counter and thought about my body and beaches past.
I recalled a Miami vacation as a thin tween, deeply tanned and clad in an orange and white polka dot two piece. My two sisters, brother, and I took daily swimming lessons my mother had arranged. I still have aged Polaroids of us holding plastic trophies above our heads — triumphant like tennis champions — our prizes for completing the course.
March trips in college during my late teens, seeped into my memory. Though close friends chose Fort Lauderdale or New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I headed to Puerto Rico, opting for the homey accommodations of a dorm hall mate named Tere. That trip, I wore a series of floral one piece suits with strategically placed jean shorts to hide my freshman fifteen. I was young and not yet bothered by the innocent, extra pounds. Old albums show me full faced on scenic boat rides and shopping trips throughout San Juan.
I thought of twenty-something getaways with my boyfriend-turned-husband to exotic locales — romantic, with turquoise water and Reggae music as their backdrop. Places we’d make vacation friends at straw huts that doubled as bars, sipping umbrella-garnished drinks late into the night. Resorts, too, where we’d buy overpriced t-shirts and walk carefree on the beach. I was at my fighting weight, boldly sporting a fuchsia string bikini from a Madison Avenue boutique.
Images of early parenthood were marked by trips toting car seats, diaper bags and two toddlers on planes en route to Disney World. I’d pack tankinis of solid brown and purple with skirted bottoms to camouflage the baby weight. I was relieved the kiddie pool was tucked away, letting me portray a real mom, unfettered by the buff vacationers’ showcase on the main drag. Strips of black and whites from photo booths are evidence of my pale, post-pregnancy physique and exhausted aura, spurred by motherhood and little time to sunbathe or relax. Beach outings during those early years, though peppered with keepsake moments, were working vacations at best.
Our boys are now teens and the promise of Spring Break has returned, albeit it’s a family affair. Bermuda is our destination, where the kids snorkel and play volleyball on pink-sanded beaches. And where my husband and I sometimes steal away to the golf course or spa. On those trips, I’ve been known to wear a black, ruched one piece with a conservatively plunging neckline I term “midlife sexy.”
As I sat in my kitchen staring at said magazine near the abandoned box of Girl Scout Cookies, I glanced at my current figure and was at peace. My favorite jeans fit, as do interchangeable bikinis, tankinis and one piece bathing suits I don in public, depending on the company. I savored one more Thin Mint and my vacation vignettes — each an indelible imprint in the sand of my psyche.