The bathing suit dilemma

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:46 PM

When I was in college I had a gray striped bikini that I loved. That was back in the day when I was skinny and looked good in a bikini. I had it in a beach bag in the back of my Toyota Celica in my garage one night for reasons I can no longer remember. It got stolen, along with my beach bag and a small tool kit I kept in the car for emergencies. I remember thinking how disgusting it was that someone would steal a used bikini. Also, I was pissed. While I bought others, I was never able to replace that bikini. I remember it fondly to this day.

I used to like shopping for bathing suits. It was fun, and I was in great shape. Picking out a bathing suit wasn’t difficult. It was an enjoyable experience. 

I didn’t swim a lot but I did love the sun. Too much. I am paying for it now, all these years later. 

As I got older, I stopped loving the sun in terms of sunbathing. I still love it. Love its energy and its beauty; don’t love what it has done to and for my skin. Still one needs a bathing suit in order to partake in pool parties and go on vacation to tropical places like Hawaii.

I don’t have a good bathing suit. It’s been years since we went anywhere tropical or that required swimming or even just sitting in the water. Still, one needs to have one just in case. We’re already making plans for a trip next year to either Hawaii or Cabo San Lucas, where we’ll stay at a resort and sit under cabanas and swim up to aquabars; where we’ll stroll the beaches and soak up the warmth, if not the sun. I’ve been dreading the idea of finding a bathing suit. I thought I could put it off. I hoped. Today, I was confronted with the bathing suit dilemma body-on. 

Friends of ours have a home in San Carlos, Mexico. It’s not far from here, about 5 hours or so by car. When we’ve gotten together, we’ve talked about going down, joining them for a weekend, or renting one of their condos and going by ourselves. I got a text this morning from Susan: I have to go to SC next weekend to deliver some parts for the boat. Wanna come?

Just the girls. No husbands. No dogs (they have two; we have one). 

Naturally I said yes, of course, fabulous, love it, can’t wait. Except for that one tiny issue. I DON’T HAVE A DECENT BATHING SUIT. 

I immediately dialed up the internet and started looking at what the styles are today, what might look good on me, on a body that’s much different than the one that easily wore the bikini that got stolen out of her 1979 Toyota Celica.

Evidently something called tankinis are very in. Two pieces that have a tank type top and different types of bottoms including swim shorts. I was intrigued. They seemed perfect for this old body of mine.

So I ordered two. Both will be here by mid-next week. In time for my weekend trip to Mexico. Hopefully one will work. If not, I’ll be wearing shorts and a tank, and hoping for the best. Either way, I’ll be in Mexico, on a boat, having fun. And that’s a good thing.

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live out loud

Sixteen years ago

by Lorin Michel Saturday, September 27, 2014 10:44 PM

Sixteen years ago today, our day started painfully early especially because the night before had ended late. The night before had been quite a party, with our closest friends and family gathered at our Oak Park home, visiting, munching on catered hors d’oeuvres, sipping their choice of wine, beer or soda. At this party, under the twinkling white lights in the trees and above in the sky, on an uncharacteristically chilly September 26 temperature, we got married. It had always been our intention to have a party and get married as opposed to get married and have a party. I think we succeeded. It was a fun night during which two people happened to exchange vows.

We made merry well into the night and then stumbled into bed. At 7 am, a white stretch limo rolled up in front of the house and in we climbed. It was a Sunday morning, and Sunday mornings are one of the few times when the freeways in Los Angeles are all fairly wide open save for some sort of catastrophic accident. Even the dreaded 405, the main north/south freeway that leads to Los Angeles International, is an easy drive. We zipped along in the back of the limo and were at LAX’s international terminal in under an hour. A tip to the driver, an easy pass through security (this was before 9/11) and we were at the gate for a Mexicana flight to Puerto Vallarta.

I don’t remember now why we had chosen Puerto Vallarta. Perhaps it was because neither of us had been there, and we both have a great love of Mexico. We had journeyed several times to Cabo San Lucas and loved it, but we wanted something different. At the time, Kevin had a travel agent he worked with. If I remember correctly, his name was Jack. He was old curmudgeon of a man. We used him to book all of our trips because he knew everything, everywhere. We always picked up our tickets at his house, a small track home in Sherman Oaks that smelled of stale cigarettes. He booked our flight and suggested a resort just outside of town called La Jolla de Mismaloya. He hadn’t steered us wrong before so we had taken his suggestion.

At the airport we upgraded to first class. We were the only ones in first class. The flight was about two and a half hours or so. When we landed it was hot and steamy, the air thick enough with moisture to see. We found our waiting limo and were promptly whisked through the winding streets of downtown PV. It was the off season so much was closed. The off season in Puerto Vallarta means the rainy season; the city is actually skirting a rainforest. We knew this and wanted to go anyway. We were there to relax, to get a bit of sun, but more to celebrate our new marriage.

The hotel was a sprawling resort where few people were staying. They had several pools, at least four restaurants, and much to explore. We had a small suite that overlooked the ocean on one side, and the rainforest on the other. Each day we’d sleep until 9:30 or 10, then pad down to the pool. We’d have coffee and then the sun would peer through for about an hour before clouding over. We’d have lunch, then put on some shorts to hike and explore. Often it would rain in the afternoon, a soft rain that was just glorious. We’d walk through it and enjoy every drop.

The 1964 film The Night of the Iguana with Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr had been filmed there, and there were many references to it in the resort’s restaurants. One of the restaurants was called John Huston’s after the director. The movie played on an endless loop on the hotel’s channel and over the course of our five days there, we managed to eventually see the whole thing in parts. It’s not a very good movie. It’s actually quite odd and highly dysfunctional – it was written by Tennessee Williams – but it holds a special place in our hearts.

We never truly left the resort. We never went into town. We simply were. It was a wonderful time, one we’re remembering today, sixteen years and one day after we got married. What a night it was. What a life it has been.

I'm thinking Mexico

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 16, 2014 9:11 PM

Mexico is one of those places you either love or hate. We are in the love category. Perhaps it’s because it’s so close to us here in the Southwest. In many cases we can drive. Even a flight is only a couple of hours, depending on where you’re going. There’s an atmosphere about the place. It’s dry and yet there’s always a hint of humidity in the air. It’s hot and yet there can be just a tickle of underlying cool, a promise of something to come.

Mexico has a fragrance that is dusty and green. It is populated with lovely people, people who are terribly poor, and yet always seem ready to assist. Maybe it’s because whenever we’ve been south of the border, it’s been to a resort, and often on Baja. Some of the best trips we’ve taken have been to Baja, and specifically to Cabo San Lucas.

The first trip Kevin and I took together, just the two of us, was to Cabo for our one-year dating anniversary. We booked a long weekend at the Hotel Twin Dolphin, a place that has since closed and the last time I heard, been leveled to make room for some other resort. The Dolphin was small, only about 60 rooms, in four-room, side-by-side bungalows situated in the cliffs and along the beach, quite a few kilometers outside of town. Before it was cool, before cell phones were smart, they boasted that their rooms had no phones or televisions. There was one television in the bar near the lobby, if any guests felt like seeing what was happening in the world, or perhaps watching a sporting event.

There was a swim-up bar in the infinity pool that also served lunch and a lovely restaurant for dinner. The property was spread out with walkways that meandered throughout, depositing you eventually at your door. The balconies were all private, the beach right off of each, the crashing waves always within reach. We went there twice.

For our honeymoon we wanted to shake things up a bit so we went to Puerto Vallarta. While Cabo is basically a desert surrounded by the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez, Puerto Vallarta is in a rainforest. It’s hot and humid. We stayed at a place called La Jolla de Mismaloya. It was a large resort, with at least four restaurants. It was outside of town. We never left the property. Everything we needed was right there. It remains one of our favorite trips.

When Justin was little and through the first part of high school, we used to plan our family vacations to include something educational. We went to Washington, DC; we went to northern Maine and Acadia. One trip was to Cancun, to dig our toes into the white sandy beaches, and to also visit Chichen Itza, the pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans. It’s a stunning place, though we didn’t like Cancun as much. In a country known for resorts, and as a destination for tourists, Cancun is way too resorty. We stayed at the Westin. It was lovely. Justin charmed the bartenders at the pool so that as soon as they saw him, they made him a virgin strawberry daiquiri. He also had the best Caesar salad he’d ever had or has had since, but it wasn’t enough to convince us to ever go back.

In high school, we took him to Cabo. The Twin Dolphin wasn’t really an option since it was truly for adults and he would have been bored out of his teenaged mind. We had gotten into the habit of finding a house or a condo to stay in when we traveled as a family. It was just easier. We could eat breakfast and sometimes lunch in the condo; there were snacks for late at night. Kevin and I went online and found a place near downtown Cabo called Villa La Estancia. It looked nice enough. We booked a place on the fifth floor, overlooking the water. Walking distance to downtown and other great restaurants. It was a spectacular trip. One of our best.

Villa La Estancia

We haven’t been back since. After that trip, Justin spiraled a bit in high school and all of our efforts went into him. Keeping him safe and healthy. And then once the darkness passed, our focus was college. And once he was in college, we couldn’t afford to go anywhere.

Now he’s out of college and working. Our lives and finances are somewhat our own again, except for the house thing. We’ve actually started talking about going back to Mexico for a long weekend, just the two of us. We’ve even talked about going back to La Estancia.

When I walked outside this morning, I was suddenly transported to Mexico. I think it was the heat. It was also the fragrance in the air. The desert alive with dust and cactus and flowers, and possibility. It’s a place you either love or hate, and we remain firmly in the love category where we’re living it out loud. 

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