Several summers ago when I stayed in Sicily for three weeks in a graduate math summer program, I got myself an unexpected souvenir – a beautiful bathing suit.
Even though the purpose of the stay was to study and work on a math project, we participants had evenings and weekends to explore the city of Catania and the beautiful areas nearby. Many of us were particularly keen to visit different beaches on weekends and they knew how to enjoy sunbathing and swimming in the water. I was the only one who was completely new to this beach culture. As a proof, I arrived in Sicily without any bathing equipment.
I loved hanging out with other participants, and inevitably, I started going to beaches with them on weekends. At first, I was content with sunbathing in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts I borrowed from my roommate, but soon, I wanted to have a full beach experience myself. The water was just too inviting to be missed.
One day, when I was talking with my roommate, I expressed my plan of buying a bathing suit for myself. I wanted to know if there was any shop where I could buy one at a reasonable price. My roommate’s answer was an immediate yes. She thought it was a great idea. I had another concern to share.
“But I don’t want a bikini.”
I said in a low voice even though there were just the two of us in the room. I was fine looking at other people in bikinis, but I couldn’t bear the thought of me exposing so much of my skin.
“I want a beautiful bathing suit, but I don’t want a bikini.”
I wasn’t sure if such an option existed, but my roommate smiled reassuringly.
“Don’t worry, we will help you find a good bathing suit for you.”
The next weekend, we went to Taormina, the famous historical town known for the beauty of its beaches. It was another bright sunny day, and once we got there, the clear water was shining like a crystal reflecting the sunlight.
My roommate and a few other girls accompanied me to a beach equipment shop. I was speechless due to the excitement and the nervousness. My roommate asked the shopkeeper about bathing suits, and the lady said she had a few collection. My roommate translated her answer to me.
“She has a few that are not bikinis!”
I jumped with excitement upon hearing it. I followed the lady to the back, and she showed me two options. A beautiful shiny bathing suit with an elegant cut on the back, one navy, one black in colour. The lady said I could try them to check the size and choose the colour.
My heart was pounding with excitement as I went inside the tiny fitting room with the bathing suits. I tried the navy one first, and I knew in that moment, that was the one I was going to take. It fitted so perfectly on my body, and I felt so grounded in that bathing suit. I felt beautiful like I had never before.
When my roommate popped in to check how I looked and felt, her face brightened up and her shiny eyes became even shinier just like the water I saw on the beach. Then she said something that made the moment even more special.
“You look nice. Because you are nice.”
I had never imagined I would find such a special bathing suit in my life. With all the beautiful memories of that summer, this navy blue bathing suit always remains close to my heart.