Sometimes people wonder at DOMAI, how there is nothing like it, and where do we find the beauties, and can we possibly keep it up? (And 'please never go away'.)
Well, just a word of reassurance and good news: we are steadily getting more and more submissions of gorgeous women, and in better and better quality. I will have to admit, a couple of years ago, finding the material in the quality I demanded, and in "simple nudes" style was an ongoing problem. But not any more. An embarrassment of riches. It is good times.
The Girl in the Gazebo
It all happened a long time ago, over 30 years ago, when I was a young teenage boy, but I remember every detail vividly.
I was 14, and a total hick. I'd never been anywhere but my home state of Minnesota until that summer, when my mother [who'd been a French war bride], arranged to send me to her cousins for the summer. That's how a naive, American Catholic schoolboy found himself in the South of France.
I was dazzled by everything. The scent of lavender in the air, the winding mountain roads, the cerulean blue sky and the sparkling Mediterranean. I'd spent my entire life in a faceless, cookie-cutter suburb, and was entranced by the villas overlooking the sea and fragrant flowers spread across the hills.
And the girls! The French girls overwhelmed me. I was shy around girls. I had no sisters, and had attended boy's schools all my life. The only girls I knew were the schoolgirls in my neighborhood or the little sisters of friends. Their French counterparts were nothing like those girls. The French girls seemed to have stepped out of a fashion magazine or an exotic movie. Back home, the girls my age were girls. These, even the 15 and 16 year olds, were women. The sophisticated way they carried themselves was worlds apart from the St. Angela's girls back in Minneapolis. Instead of the baggy shorts and tee shirts I was used to, these goddesses dressed in form-fitting capris or snug, sleeveless sheaths, or most thrillingly, tiny bikinis the color of candy.
They were all beautiful and I was endlessly smitten, but there was one girl, Sandrine, who filled my nighttime dreams and left me bashful and tongue-tied whenever I encountered her. Sandrine was a friend of the family, and spent time visiting and swimming with my French girl cousins.
I'd sit around the pool and watch them for hours. Sandrine was an expert swimmer, and her smooth, lithe young body moved through the water as if she was part mermaid. I love to watch her glide under water, and then emerge breathless, the drops of water sparkling on her bobbed auburn hair.
My French was poor, and she spoke very little English. Besides, I was almost three years her junior--a silly, silent child, her friend's insignificant cousin.
Sandrine was the cosseted only child of an enormously wealthy widowed father, who indulged her every whim. Their villa, with its enormous pool and vast gardens, about a kilometer down the road from my cousin's, was as grand as a luxury hotel. There was a massive tiled swimming pool, and spectacular formal gardens. The scents of orange blossoms, jasmine, lemon verbena and rose filled the air. Hidden among the flowerbeds was a tiny gazebo (a small garden building without walls, to give shade) that looked as if it has been magically lifted from a children's storybook. Surrounded by rose bushes, the Victorian-style structure was protected by a high stone wall. I overheard Sandrine tell my cousin Anouk that it was her "special place"--a gift from her doting father. "I go there to think and draw, and be by myself," she confided.
A week later, I was alone in the villa. My aunt and uncle and cousins had gone to Grasse to attend a festival, but I had begged off, claiming a headache. I planned to spend the day alone. But by the time mid-afternoon came around, I was bored, and decided to go for a walk.
I had no particular destination in mind, but found myself wandering down the twisting mountain road towards Sandrine's house. I was much too bashful to even consider knocking on her door, but sat outside the stone wall, eating a peach and daydreaming. I could hear the scritch scritch scritch of a pen on paper, and a quiet voice I recognized as Sandrine's humming to herself as she drew.
I knew I shouldn't, but I felt as if an irresistible force was controlling me as I shimmied up the stone wall. When I reached the top, I could see Sandrine, leaning over her sketch pad, a piece of charcoal in her hand. As my eyes scanned the scene, I saw her bikini on the gazebo floor, and realized that the object of all my summer dreams was naked.
She was the first nude female I had ever seen, and she was perfect. I knew it at that moment, and I know it still, three decades later. She was lithe and delicately formed, and her olive skin glistened in the Provence afternoon sun. I saw a tube of suntan lotion on the ground near her chaise, and almost smelled its delicate coconut scent on her skin.
She put down her sketchpad for a few moments, stretched slowly and gracefully, and reached for the lotion. I watched her sit up, pour some into her hands and slowly massage the thick peach-colored lotion up her long, graceful legs and thighs.
Sandrine stood up, then continued to rub more lotion into her belly, and finally across her chest and small, perfectly formed breasts. I could see the shadows fall across her body as she slowly rubbed the last bits of the fragrant creme across her chest. The Riviera sun bathed her in its golden light as she stood there, as if drawn by a single graceful line on god's own sketch pad. Then she stretched again, giving a small moue of pleasure, and returned to her chaise and sketchpad.
Absorbed, she didn't see or hear me. How long did I perch there on the wall, admiring Sandrine? Perhaps only a few minutes, or perhaps hours. I lost track of time, and eventually the sun started to set. She gathered her paper and pencils, slipped into a short robe, and strolled back to the main house.
I sat there until the first of the evening stars were high in the sky, then climbed down and walked home by moonlight. My family was still not home, and so I spent a quiet evening, just thinking and remembering the look of Sandrine.
I'm a man now, middle-aged, and so many years have passed since that day in France. But the memory remains clear to me, the memory of Sandrine, the beautiful girl in the gazebo.