At the time I thought it was charming, her lack of self-awareness. And it could be, but I have since come to think that perhaps there is more in it. In this culture, it is not really appreciated to be aware of your own talents, or your own beauty. But so what if girls are aware of it, and appreciates it just like everybody else? What if they love and are proud of their beauty, and like to show it to others, so they appreciate it too? In a society like ours, with a lot of problems, wouldn't they make it seem accidental, like they are not aware of it and can't help it?
Letter of the week, from Alan:
I recently began writing nostalgic accounts of my younger years, and thought that your readers might be interested in this particular story. Enjoy!
I first fell in love in the summer before my freshman year of High School. Her name was Alexis, and she lived up the street a few houses. She was about two years ahead of me in school. She was thin and petite, and had long, dark hair that got wavy when the weather was humid. Her skin was a flawless dark, smooth, olive tone. Her features were soft and rounded. Her eyes were stunning, and seemed to glow a pale blue. She intrigued me like no girl had before, but I was so shy I could hardly look at her without blushing and turning away.
I grew up in an old house on the outskirts of a small town in the Midwest. It was set into a hill overlooking a creek which ran only 25 or 30 feet away. I often sat out on the screened-in porch in the back and watched the activity below. Toward the end of this particular summer, we had a week-long heat wave with opressively high humidity and record temperatures.
One night after everyone else in the house had gone to bed, I went out onto the back porch to watch the storm that was coming in. I sat in darkness and watched the lightning shooting from cloud-to-cloud, illuminating the ground below. The thunder shook lowly, and as I watched, the winds picked up and the rain began to fall. The storm came in very quickly, and I could see the sheets of rain throw patterns of raindrops onto the surface of the creek. Within minutes, it was an all-out downpour. As I watched the water, I saw something moving across the creek. There was someone walking down the hill. I strained to see who it was. It didn't seem normal for someone to be out in such weather.
My heart began to beat faster as I realized it was Alexis, and she was clearly enjoying herself in the pouring rain. She was slowly twirling about on the hill above the creek, head and arms raised, letting the water cover herself. She was barefoot, and dressed in nothing but a white sleeping gown. As she came closer, I could see that the rain had soaked the fabric of her gown so that it clung tightly to her skin all over her body. The sheer, thin white folds seemed nearly transparent in places, and left little to the imagination. I watched in awe, trying to absorb as much of the sight as I could through the dim light and brief strobes of lightning. She slowly approached the creek, and by the time she reached the edge, she couldn't have been more than 30 feet from my spot on the porch. I couldn't even move. I just kept watching, silently.
She slowly stepped into the creek, one foot at a time. She walked into the creek until the water was running up to her knees. She stood there a moment, arms oustretched to the falling rain. She was so enthralled with the rain that she almost seemed to be in a sort of trance. Her face looked upward, eyes closed, and the wet streaks of water flowing down her face and body were clearly visible even from my vantage point. Her dark brown hair looked beautiful in the rain, slicked with water and streaming down her back and her face. I couldn't help thinking she looked like an angel.
She stood there for a moment, absorbing the feeling of the rain, and then she raised her hands above her head, running her fingers through her hair. She paused again, then turned away slowly until she was in profile. Then she leaned down slightly toward the water. She put her hands into the water and took hold of the bottom of her nightgown. With one graceful motion, she slowly stood up straight again, lifting and pulling her hands above her head, arching her body backwards, and fully removing the rain-soaked nightgown. It was the first time I had seen the female form in its full glory, and I was so overtaken I could barely breathe. Her body was streaked with rain, glistening as light reflected off her perfect skin. Her breasts were small and perfect, youthful and firm, and she was perfectly proportioned from head to toe with gorgeous curves and contours. Water streamed down her body, front and back, and flowed into the stream below. She stood there for only a moment, but it seemed like time was frozen for a moment as the distant lightning illuminated her body.
I didn't realize it then, but I think what made her so beautiful was the fact that she had the full grace of a woman, but was still touched with the akwardness and innocence of a girl. She still had her innocence, and had not yet become fully aware of her own beauty.
She gently lay the nightgown on the shore, and slid silently into the water. She swam and lay in the creek for several minutes, and I only saw occasional glimspes of her as I continued to sit motionless on the back porch. The rain was subsiding and the lightning had already moved past us. Eventually, she stood up and grabbed her nightgown from the shore, which she rang out and tried to slip back over her head. Slowly, she began heading back up toward her house.
Even though it was only a brief encounter, the sight of Alexis bathing in the creek that night has stayed with me as one of my clearest and most vivid memories. I hope your readers will enjoy this memoir as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
The pictures are from recent pages in the members' section.