A couple of weeks ago, I was exiting the parking garage of my apartment. It was morning, and while I waited to pull forward, I glanced toward the promenade that encircles the marina. It was breezy, the mist seemingly waking up and rolling about too.
A woman stood a few feet from me with a small cart, and the handle of a shop broom without bristles propped on her cart. There was no one else around.
I made to turn away when she removed her top, and then she crouched to take off her pants. I was glued to the spot as she stuffed her clothes into her cart and rolled her shoulders back as if finally able to greet the morning properly.
If she’d looked over, I would have averted my eyes and driven away, but she didn’t seem to care what I or anyone else was doing on that morning.
I swear she smiled, or maybe her face was so peaceful I imagined it as she held her cart with the broomstick trailing behind her like an obedient dog. Then, head high, she walked on, leaving me staring from my car.
The instinct is to assume this lady has tipped over the edge, to call the police for assistance. What if someone passed with their young child who is then traumatized by an older woman naked and walking her imaginary broomstick dog? We always seem to worry most about the poor children seeing boobs. But seriously, what if the woman hurt herself?
I did nothing. I pulled into traffic and left. Very few people wake in LA before 10 AM anyway, I rationalized. She seemed content in whatever space she was in that allowed her to take off her clothes and have a walkabout.
Maybe I should have done something, cared for her, or called for help, but I didn’t because, at that moment, she seemed to know what was best for her a hell of a lot more than I might.
She didn’t appear in distress. She was in a safe place and wasn’t asking for my help. I was in an ill-fitting sweatshirt, and she’d decided to undress. Who was I to determine which one of us was right or wrong?
At some point, society dictates what is “normal.” Walking around naked in public does not fit the bill for most, and it is indeed immoral to others.
We have rules that most of us follow. But, for many reasons, a few of us can not check the boxes and fit inside the lines. I know nothing about broad-reaching policies regarding coloring wherever and whenever you want or about mental health.
What I do know is that on that morning, as a member of the collective rule followers, I didn’t call the cops or insert myself into this woman’s life.
Instead, I marveled at the defiance, let her be, and wished her at least a few more glorious steps before some “sane” and “responsible” person lost their shit and told her she was wrong for wanting the early morning breeze on more than just her face.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Cool Sheets.