Takin’ Off My Water Wings (Part 1 of 2)

Take One: Puffer’s Pond

So, a few weeks ago K, our friend BB, and I went to the local swimmin’ hole here in Western Mass, Puffer’s Pond.

Photo courtesy of the city of Amherst (amherst.gov)

We had planned for a week to go, and then, of course, on the day of, after a full seven days of sun and heat, it clouds up and fakes like it’s gonna rain all day.  So, I figure, we will hang out on the beach* and when it rains we will go do something else.  I didn’t wear my swim trunks, and was utterly unprepared when it actually didn’t rain.  BB and K were prepared, however, so they went for a bit of a swim.  The area there at Puffer’s is really very pretty, actually, there’s a nice rock formation and lots of trees.  I was feeling at ease by myself, relaxin’ on the beach, when I thought, hey, you could take your shirt off, you know, if you wanted.

I looked around…there was a dude swimming with his family (composed of a ladyfriend and a few elementary school aged kids), two lesbians a little older than me sitting on a log about 8 feet behind me and chatting, a retirement-age couple floating around on inner tubes, and a few single adults a little further down the beach, and K and BB swimming quietly away to explore the rock formation a little ways down the pond.  Not exactly the throngs of bodies you might find at home on a similar day at Hollywood Beach, but still, public topless sunbathing…was I ready for it?

Turns out, I was not.

I decided to keep my top on and mope about feeling like there was no place for bodies like mine now that I had decided to have surgery, but not take T.  Even without tits, I still present very much like a female, because, well, I am still in a female body, just a female body without protruding mammary glands.

So on the “beach” that day I felt like a trans sore thumb, not ready to stick my still healing scars out into the real world for observation and judgment.  And that made me mad, it pissed me off that my body, now that I have started to claim it as my own, started to mold it in a way that reflects how I see myself internally, now it would be rejected.  Or so I presumed.   Fact of the matter is, I rejected myself that day: by keeping my top on I never gave the other people on the beach the chance to reject me or (and this is much more likely what would have happened) to not give a shit at all and continue enjoying their day.

Eli sat on the beach and felt sorry for himself that the world doesn’t make space for his kind.  Truth: Eli doesn’t make space for his kind by keeping his top on.  It is not up to some “world” out there to make my life comfortable for me.  It is up to me.  So last week, I got another chance to swim, and I didn’t bitch out.

Next time: Take Two, Poolside in Lincoln Park

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*Beach (in Western Mass): n. a small, hard area of land near a tiny body of water, usually man-made, that might have once been made of sand, but currently feels like matted dirt, on which to put a blanket because you don’t want your towel to touch it.

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