The fall I turned twenty-five I participated in kung fu training. By spring my body showed the results of all that training, because I wasn’t a bit half-assed about the work I put into self-defense. I showed a hard-line from my pinkie toe to my cast iron deltoids.
I immediately go out and buy a $150 bikini.
Yes. One hundred and fifty dollars.
For a bikini.
I look good in it.
The print of this bikini speaks more to nostalgia than style, but it has both. It is made out of blue fabric with orange marigolds and grey and blue cranes with long thin beaks and soft looking feathers. It reminds me of a rich spicy perfume my grandmother wore when I was nine. I remember her gold high heels and the smell of leather in her large walk-in closet. I think of the Oriental pattern on the couches in the large living room.
There are beads adorning the criss-cross and criss-cross again straps across my back. The little beads rub and grind against my collar-bone, but they are so perfect, so just a little “too much” that the idea of not having small beads rubbing into that tender skin would be a tragedy. The colors of this little “too much” adornment reminds me of a plastic necklace on an elastic string I wore all of the time when I was little. The department store air tastes like childhood when I proudly walk out with my extravagant purchase.
There was a time in which I wore ninety dollar perfume and dressed my brick house body in black form-fitting pants and high heels for work. My walk said I had somewhere to go and something to prove. My friends were friends with me because, and I am not kidding, I was hot. Someone said this to me, while I was wearing my kung fu bikini at the beach she said, “It’s nice to have a hot friend to go places with.”
When I was ten years old, my favorite thing to do in the whole world was to drink coffee and write in my room with my cats. Dear Readers, I’ll give you thirty seconds to guess if this is still the case, and if you’ve read more than one of my posts it’ll only take you ten seconds to come to the correct conclusion. When I was “hot” I was the same person I was when I was a fat ten-year old kid writing in a pink diary in my room.
When I was a fat kid, I’d have thrown myself under a bus to have someone say something like that to me. When I was a fat kid, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was, shall I say, “uncool”. Years later after being the uncool kid, when someone went on and on about how thin, small, petite I was, I thought it was a compliment. The very act of wearing this piece of small navy fabric over my tiny tight ass validated me.
Somewhere between kung fu and yoga, I bought a Scooby-Doo bikini. Yeah, you read that correctly, Scooby-Doo. Now, our favorite Great Dane isn’t adorning my butt and Shaggy isn’t peeping around a triangle on the top. But, it’s Scooby-Doo anyway. It’s the softest periwinkle blue you’ve ever seen. There are yellow and white petals of daisies scattered around on the top and bottom. It is held together with little strings of the same periwinkle. The strings curl a bit at the ends, like I have tassels hanging off the side of my hips.
The pattern is as busy and indescribably awe-inspiring as the curtains that hung in my great-grandmother’s living room. The exact curtains, I might add, that I waved around with my hands while I watched Scooby-Doo, who is still one of my favorite people.
My Scooby-Doo bikini has been in Colleen’s possession since last summer, when we had a pool time play date at her parents’ house. Now, with the warming weather and a freshly cut back yard, I want my Scooby-Doo bikini in case I need to run around the yard, bathe Daisy or cover myself in SPF 90 and lay out on a blanket. It would not be beyond the realm of possibility to catch me practicing yoga in this thing, in the privacy of my back yard, of course.
When I get my bikini home tonight, I rush to replace it in the top drawer of my dresser. When I do, I see that old, decrepit kung fu bikini. I pull it out and hold it up. The navy blue is fading and the little beads have lost their luster.
Of course, I have to put it on.
The weathered elastic cuts into my hips now and there is this unflattering activity in the back I’ve heard referred to as muffin tops. Funny thing, though, my arms are no less defined than they were when this bathing suit was new. I can see this fancy feathering of abdominal muscles and trenches of muscle in my hips. But, also, there are muffin tops.
I think about throwing the thing away, but I do not.
When women want to say something nice and don’t know exactly what to say, they say, “Girl, you look good. Have you lost weight?”
This is not the compliment that it once was for me. Once I perceived this “compliment” to mean I had worth, my training had value. But now, being overly small, petite, skinny goes against what I’m actually going for here. Now, I correct this “compliment” quickly.
“No, I’m still a hundred and forty pounds.”
And every hundred and forty pounds of me looks good in my Scooby-Doo bikini. My friends are friends with me because their hearts are warm and so is mine. My heart is as warm and innately good as it was when I was ten. The outside of us changes. We gain and lose weight, have babies and get boob jobs. A mind can grow and develop, expanding with concepts and ideas. We grow as people. Life patterns can change, taste can change; one minute a kung fu bikini and the next, Scooby-Doo.
Neither life is better. Neither incarnation of me at any point in my life is more or less impressive. It takes time to really figure out who we are and where we want to go. It takes years to discover my voice, as I discussed in my previous post. It takes more than a few months to learn not to judge my practice on body fat percentage.
How well do I know my heart? That’s the critical assessment for my progress. I realize I have always known my heart, but there was a time in my life when I was trying to make my life conform to ideas in my mind about how life should be.
What is comes down to is that I was trying to be a Scooby-Doo girl in a kung fu world. I once thought you can take the girl out of kung fu, but you can’t take the kung fu out of the girl. Ultimately, the girl doesn’t change, only how the personality manifests. I am still a fat kid, a kung fu princess and a yoga practitioner (always in training). My friends are friends with the fat kid, kung fu princess, yoga chick, and chicken little, all at the same time. We have that understanding.
At the conclusion of his lecture, Dr. Desikachar (a young yoga master, grandson of Krishnamacharya who taught the modern master trifecta) answered a question from the audience. The question, “How do we know our mind? How do we understand it?”
Dr. Desikachar answered, “Don’t worry about the mind. With a constant link with the heart, you will know your own mind.”
Dear Readers, I don’t have anything to add to that, I think he said it all.