so, i pretty much don’t wear bras at all anymore. what is it like, you might ask. well, it’s like, you’re exactly the same person, but you don’t have any bras on.
that’s kind of what it was like when i didn’t use to shave my leg or arm hair when i was a fully grown teenager. fully grown as in still small and everything, but with all the pressure of life as a white rich-country teenager. as in, hardly any pressure except that all the life around is trying to disconnect you from yourself and nature, and you just have to struggle to re-connect yourself in any way you can.
anyway, so not wearing bras is a wonderful new thing. what are bras good for anyway? shaping something that would prefer to shape itself. it started because i was living with a french girl, and we were going to a new years eve party in dresses with thin straps.
for a while i thought maybe it’s bad for your body, that the boobs would start to go low, but instead it turns out it’s very healthy and helps your self pull itself together. you are soft and free and moving upwards, actually. and, if someone wants to touch you, or you want to touch your own body there are less impediments. women friends, be free, someone told me the secret (no bras) in a french whisper and now i tell it to you.
also it was valentine’s day and i was in paris. i went walking with a beautiful man of a similar height to me, meaning, if i’d like to say something, he can hear it straight away. i’ve wondered if this is the reason couples here are more affectionate, namely that they are more often more or less the same size, so there’s no struggle to be close. or perhaps it’s because just up the road there is a museum called ‘le musée de la vie romantique’ – it could be that too.
so it was valentines day and i was with a nice man, eating salmon, sour cream and small pancakes next to some wattle and gerbera flowers in a tiny apartment kitchen, listening to the radio, and then went walking in the big woods. this is the woods where people live too in tents all around the forestial paths. one tent i saw even had a garden that the people had started constructing around it, there in the middle of the woods.
“they live like birds” i thought to myself, and said out loud “not producing, not doing tertiary industry, just finding food and eating it.” the nice man said “you don’t know that, they might have jobs.” and he was right. i’d thought i was being poetic, instead i was being a dog.
we wandered a long way in the woods, through the trails that people who visit and people who live there use. there was one tree i wanted to look at for a significant part of forever, and said “i wish everyone was on mushrooms so i could look at everything on this tree for as long as i like, and it not be weird, and other people look too.” the man was taking photos and perhaps didn’t reply. i looked at all the mosses on that tree. each small area of lichen or moss had a different colour of tiny protrusions growing from its centre. there was lichen with black protrusions, lichen with white protrusions, green lichen with green spots, green lichen with orange spots; funguses; water colourings. the day before we had done water colours in the apartment. he made shapes like a true artist, going for it with the colours. i tried too hard to get the folds of his adidas or similar squeaky jumper and the highlight stripe right. that’s not what watercolours are about. but this plant was doing everything watercolour exactly right.
so this tree was just growing there, on valentine’s day on the edge of paris, throwing out every colour it felt like, mainly shades of greens, browns, blues, whites, greys, oranges, and we were there looking at it in our own ways. i found one leaf that was fading away into being a piece of see-through silk and said in the other language “what is between life and death?” and answered my own question, cutting the man off, “life and beauty.”
so, braless and on valentines day we both kept walking and marching through the woods, past many lovely dogs now, owners, lakes, footbridges joining islands in lakes, dog poo, leaves mid-death. and we went to buy wattle and gerberas and bread and wine for the russian man and his guitarist wife. they fed us blood sausage and potatoes, and nadia the wife played a series of incredible classical and then turkish-inspired pieces on the guitar, lifting her hand in the air at the end of phrases, and knitting and unknitting her long brows. each time she did something, said something, clinked glasses, laughed, the russian man would turn to her and give her a kiss on the lips, sergeuï, a singer too, but of course making room for his wife who is the true artist.
they and the tree and the tents and the actual dogs showed what valentines day could possibly be, braless and free.