Living in densely populated areas with tall buildings is a new experience for me. Instead of opening my back door to let my dogs out in the morning, I take them downstairs past security and onto the street. My dogs are morning dogs, so when I first moved to a high rise I thought, "Who is going to see me at six in the morning?" I was shocked when I went out the first day to find dozens of locals, security guards, and other dog owners bustling about.
Unfortunately, my dogs can't cross their legs long enough for me to look like Ivana Trump, so I've developed a 2-minute routine that includes putting my hair in a ponytail, throwing on a tank top and tennis skirt, and smearing on a little lip gloss. If I've stayed out late the night before I might add a pair of dark sunglasses.
There have been several times when I thought I was completely alone only to find out later someone was watching. I have a friend who saw me flipping a cartwheel on the beach as he was looking down from his balcony, and another friend who saw me crazy dancing through the glass walls of the gym. Whenever someone says they've seen me at a time I thought I was alone, I have to wonder... what was I doing at that exact moment? Was I adjusting a boob? Was I blowing my nose? Did I have a wedgie?
In Panama, women pull their breasts out to feed their babies in the middle of the mall and no one looks twice. So unless I lose my bathing suit to an aggressive wave or my dress to a faulty halter strap, I've come to terms with the fact that someone could always be watching. Now that I'm used to it, I have a bigger question. What will I do when they stop?
Melissa Darnay is a marketer, a serial entrepreneur, and a relocation concierge in Panama. Learn more...