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Elizabeth Real

I look forward to being an old woman sitting on the beach in an old woman bathing suit, all clasps and flounces against skin whose battle with the sun has already been lost. By then, my life will have been accounted for. People will speak of me and say: she has been blessed; or they will say: she has had her share of trouble.

Elizabeth RealIt is likely that I will have had heartache and triumph, both small and large. There will have been first paychecks, first strands of gray. I will have had first touches, last looks. When I am sitting in a beach chair propped open for me by a man too young to fathom my great age, my story will be decided, it will have been told—perhaps by me, perhaps by others whose knowledge of the details is fuzzier than my old lady chin.

I may die before my old age, a car accident maybe, fiery and fierce, or cancer, gradual and graceless. And if my life flashes before my eyes it will be filled with oceans and beaches, salt on my skin and sun in my eyes. I will remember warm towels after cold swims and icy rum drinks served by men with whom I shared few words and no language.

Or I may live to have children. They may have features not unlike my own and will certainly resent me. They may or may not invite me to spend holidays in their homes. There is a chance I will live to know the children of my children, young people who love me or tolerate me and defend me with small words like: she's old.

The world will have changed since my youth and I will be appalled by the things young women wear, find myself befuddled by the things young men say. I will look back at my life on occasion and wonder if I was ever so young.

There's one thing that is certain. I will always love the beach: sand covering my toes, shifts of breeze lifting my hair from my face. I may find a thousand substitutes in the years between now and then, bites of semi-sweet chocolate or the smell of a particular man's sweat. I may find other things that fill me with calm, that settle me, but that—sitting at land's end and listening to waves crash against the beach—will remain as it is. It is where I will continue to take refuge from big thoughts and small hurts. It is where I am safe, where I am me. Untouchable, unchangeable, unbound.

You can contact Elizabeth Real at realelizabeth@yahoo.com.

Elizabeth Real's writing on Conversely

Listed from the most recent.

Small Kindness
This was how it would begin. Guttural compliments, rough, impatient kisses, then his hand, unstoppable, uncaring. Date: 06/1/03

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