Skin that sags with reverent glory in the places we’re told never to let it. This story is a celebration of the beauty of aging in a westernized society in which aging is still largely misrepresented, shamed and hidden.
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: ROBYN PERROS
Suncream farts out the tube into her palm. She giggles like a girl. Some jokes never get old. Patwa! Hand slaps the back of her neck rolls. Ah, icing on a cake. The buff lifeguard is yawning. The old ladies are stretching. Hats on, frocks off, bellies in. The angels are watching. One by one, they enter the bright blue lake. Sjoe! Icy morning water swallowing bodies as warm as bed sheets. Three, two, one, come on ladies, knees up, let’s go! Flab hits the water like ice-cream hits the pavement, while a pool noodle soars past like a lost flamingo leg. It’s Monday morning at Tes and I’m melting into another chlorine dream.
Barbara saves a bee from drowning. Cecile asks about Dawn’s daughter who is visiting in June, ag no sorry, July. Militsa untwists Mary’s swimsuit strap. Candy turns the music up, because it’s a jazzy number. All the while, Catherine squints over at the clock on the far wall. It’s still 09h05. Just like it has been for the past month. Break’s over ladies. Let’s go, knees into your chest, four more to go, come on, one more, relax your core, well done.
I must pardon my staring. My mother taught me better, but it just looks so different to mine. Your skin. It’s rare to see, you see, skin so remarkably defiant. Skin that doesn’t pose. Skin that doesn’t pout. Skin that glows with memories rather than makeup. Skin that sags with reverent glory in the places we’re told never to let it. This skin, cling-wrapping precious antique souls, like an undiscovered heirloom of my own fate. How is it that something as human as aging, could be kept so well hidden?
Are you ready? Lift your arms into the air, keep your feet together, another four to go. Push it ladies! I’m not used to photographing this skin, on land or in water. Nor is it used to being photographed. “For Heaven’s sake my dear, why do you want to photograph us old things?” These dolphins in sunhats with sharp wit, soft eyes and wicked shortbread recipes – keep trying to crack out of me. Can they not see how exquisite they are?
Especially now, that they are so much closer to some version of God. Especially now, that they are so much closer to swimming in eternity.