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Letters to Domai
Although I always liked summertime because of the possibility of sunbathing and swimming in the sea, I never really hated wintertime. I always more or less enjoyed the short days, fresh weather, snowfall, and as a real Dutchman, the time of ice-skating. However, an experience last summer makes me look forward to the next summer more then normally.
Since I completed my study three years ago, I have a nice job. But especially in the summer, when the weather is hot, the days at the office are very long. On such days, I often make a detour when I'm cycling the way back home in the afternoon. I'm living in a small village rather near the North-Sea beach, so you can imagine it's very attractive to travel a little longer and take a break at the beach. Sometimes I'm only taking a short bath to cool down, but other times I stay longer, sometimes even until I can watch the sun going down in the sea. The beach I often go to is never really busy, especially in the evening, so it is an ideal place to relax at the end of a busy day.
One evening last summer when I was sitting down at the beach, a girl came to me to ask if I knew at what time the last bus was leaving from the nearest bus stop to the town in which she stayed. Because I sometimes, when the weather is really bad, take that bus when I'm going to work, I was familiar with the departure times. So I was able to tell her that the last bus was leaving about eleven p.m., and she was happy realizing she could stay a few hours longer. I was happy with that too, because next she gave attention to the book I was reading (a biography of Bob Dylan, one of my favourite musicians), and told me she knew it as well and liked it very much. After we talked a little about the book, I was frank enough to ask her to sit down. As a result of the conversation about the book it was clear we shared some interests, especially music and art, so there was a lot to talk about.
She introduced herself as Sara and told me she was studying Geology in Amsterdam. She was spending the summer holiday by her parents, who lived near the village I live. During all that time she wasn't wearing the top of her swimsuit. That was a nice sight to me and she seemed to feel comfortable about that. Although topless women aren't very rare at beaches in Holland, many (young) women still seem to be ashamed about their breasts. An example of this we saw later that evening.
About ten meters in front of us, a young couple was sunbathing, but seeing the sun going down there was less sun to bathe in with every minute. So they apparently were browned off with sunbathing and got starting to leave. At that time the girl laid down on her stomach and had loosened the ties of her top. Before she stood up she wanted to attach them again, but that wasn't very easy. While still laying on her stomach and forcedly hiding her breasts, she wasn't able to fix the ties so she had to ask her boyfriend to help her.
We both looked and smiled. "She better go like you", I said to Sara, and we both burst out laughing. She told she was very happy she didn't have to shame about going topless, because that offers her a lot of freedom. Often she wished it was allowed to go without the bottom of her swimsuit on the beach as well. I was a little bit surprised by this, because in Holland are many nude beaches. There even was one closer then one kilometre from the place we were and I told her so. "I know," Sara said, "but the idea of being on a clearly bounded area like Indians or rare birds in a reserve, and being spotted by every passing man isn't very attractive to me". I had heard about voyeurs several times, so from that point of view I could understand her. However, at the same time we both hit on the idea that as a couple we would maybe attract less attention. Sara was the first who mentioned the idea, but although it was my opinion as well, I was a bit frightened when she suggested going to the nearby nude beach for the rest of the evening. However, in the past I had appreciated the idea of skinny-dipping several times, and I decided to do it.
So we picked up our stuff and walked for about ten minutes until we arrived at the nude beach. When we had chosen a place to sit down, we both hesitated to take off our swimsuit and spend strikingly much time by arranging our stuff. "Oh, we look like some prudish old people" Sara suddenly said and next she removed her bottom. We both laughed and I followed her example. The next moment was a real relief and it was very relaxing to stay and chat with each other for a few more hours, but feeling completely free at this time. Because this evening passed by very fast, we arranged to meet for several more times that summer and every new moment with her was great. Many times we thought back to our first meeting, and many times we had much fun about "the girl with the bra" just like our own initial shyness when we went nude at the first time. Also I still smile when I think back to the moment we realized we both were still wearing a funny white "swimsuit", the marks from earlier tanning.
Although we enjoyed de possibility of nude sunbathing and swimming very much, it remained to both of us that we stayed in a sort of reserve when we were at the nude beach. This strange status of nude beaches might be the reason that you indeed will find some men there who caused Sara saying she would not feel comfortable being at the nude beach alone. The feeling of being considered as one of those men makes me thinking the same later on. Of course one is allowed to enjoy someone others body, but feeling the presence of someone spying on you all the time is another thing. Maybe the legalisation of nude sunbathing on regular beaches (like in Denmark) would solve this problem partly because when "normal" people become used to the sight of nude-in-real, naturists might lose their extraordinary status more or less. From that point of view, the establishment of nude beaches in the past has even been a wrong decision. It would have been better when the government had looked the other way when the first people went nude on the beach, so that nude bathing would have got more and more accepted in time. This is what happens in the case of topless bathing, which is now a common thing.
I don't know if this will happen in Holland in the future after all, so in the meantime I will enjoy the possibility of the nude beach very much. A few weeks ago I went to Amsterdam to meet Sara. We had a very good time together, at the skating rink among other things, but we both look forward to next summer when we will meet again, and which might become our first summer without getting tan lines!