I think that everyone remembers that person in high school that they couldn’t forget. Maybe it was that crush that didn’t know that you existed, or the guy that you dated a couple times but never seemed to make a deeper connection or if you are like me, it was the one that gave you your first kiss. We all have those people that we keep stored deep in our minds and we wish that we would have done things differently. All sorts of movies have been made about the fantasy of running into that high school person, be it by random chance or at a high school reunion. Typically these reunion stories involve the heroine of the movie getting payback for all the hurt or rejection they faced.  The fantasy of reconnecting with a lost love and either feeling vindicated or riding of into the sunset straight to their very own happily ever after, strikes a chord in many of us that wonder “what if”.

For me, there was a guy in high school that I was so terribly in love with. For our purposed we will name him S. Just to be clear, I don’t know who the quarterback of my high school football team was, or the star basketball player. I don’t know who was the “it” guy. To me there was just S. He was the crush that set me on fire. The guy I would sneak glances at, the one I wanted to call all the time just to listen to his breath (I never did that though). He was the “it” guy for me. S. was the sort of guy that I fell for instantly. I was socially awkward, just pretty enough to get by and just smart enough to be intimidating to guys my age. He was funny with a boyish grin and a talent for saying the most outrageous things. There is something about a guy that is smart and willing to put himself out there to be charming and flirtatious with girls that always has made my heart melt. The first time I saw him, I just knew that this one was the one I wanted to be mine. I told a mutual friend of ours about my crush and she informed him fairly soon after. I was mortified when he told me what she had said, but I just nodded and said that indeed, I was interested in him. After that we spent some time together, and it wasn’t long before he went for the kiss which ending in several make out sessions. I was head over feet for him, and he always seemed to return the sentiment when we were together, but forget about me the next day at school. After a few months of this, I started to feel like I was his dirty little secret. Not good enough to be his girlfriend, but difficult to resist otherwise. For me, there was no other guy but him. I adored him whole-heartedly. He was the holy grail of boyfriends to me.

It always seemed odd to me that there were any number of articles in teen magazines dealing with how to get a crush to notice you. Just there weren’t any that dealt with how to handle it when the crush notices you, kisses you and makes you feel so many wonderful things and then dates someone else. Teenage hormones are a bitch, and I wasn’t exempt from being a slave to mine. I would go home after one of these makeout sessions, frustrated with need and trembling with the newness of this lightning like desire.  Standing in the shower, I would ache with a want for something I had never experienced. I wanted to go further with him, and I wanted to give him everything that I had, but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine giving him that gift without getting something in return.
Time went by, and eventually I graduated high school. Before I started college, I went to live with my sister. In short order I had found a boyfriend and had a summer romance. I was still bitter about my relationship with S. and decided to lose my virginity to the new boyfriend just to get it over with. It was not the experience of my dreams, and while I was doing it S.’s face was in my head. I left for college and tried to forget. Even still, when I would call my friends back where I went to high school, I would always ask if they had heard anything about S. After a year of college, I had family issues that forced me to take some time off. I enrolled in beauty school and a few months later ended up pregnant with my daughter. I summarily got married and tried to build a life with my new husband. There were still nights when the memory of that teenage romance would haunt me. Certain sappy movies, some love songs on the radio. It seemed like no matter how far my life had moved on, there was still the memory of him and the wish that things had turned out differently.
Years went by and I divorced, then many years later remarried. Throughout this time I started to think about him less often. Occasionally, I would ask my friends if they had heard anything about him. Sometimes I would think that I saw his face in a crowded mall or in the grocery store. I would shake my head and smile because I knew that we had went to high school very far away from where I was living currently. I even talked with a friend about this phenomena and wondered why it was that I only ever saw his face, not other men that I had dated or friends that I hadn’t seen in years. She said that it was normal to never forget you first love and to wish that you could go back and change things. I agreed and decided that is what it must be.
A few months ago I was playing around online and decided to look up old friends from high school. I had done it before, and really all I wanted to do was to find him. I tried searches online and everything I could think of, and never could find even a clue as to his whereabouts. I found cousins, aunts, uncles even distant relatives but never him. But that day I got lucky. I found him on a social networking site, and found, much to my surprise, that he was living in the town I had just recently moved away from. The one I had been living in since I left college. My hands were shaking as I typed out an email to him. I was fairly certain that it was even odds on whether he would even remember me. I thought that if he did, I was probably the last person he would welcome an email from, because we did not leave things on the best of terms. So I hastily typed out an email just saying hello and hoping that he remembered me and didn’t mind hearing from an old friend. That I noticed on his page pictures of him with his wife, and that I am glad to see that he is happy and how much I would love to hear from him and find out what he had been doing since high school. I pressed send before I could change my mind.
Imagine my surprise when a few hours later I saw a reply from him in my inbox!
If you would like to hear more of this story please let me know.  This is my first attempt a this sort of narrative.

Published in: on December 19, 2007 at 1:53 am  Comments (1)  
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Living Large

Living Large

When I was 4 years old, I learned to read. I don’t remember how it happened, I only can recall small tidbits of learning to write my name. What I do remember clearly is how much I loved to open a book and travel on new adventures. For all of my life, books have served as an escape, inspiration and excitement. Even as an adult, I devour books and always have a stack that I am working on at any given time.

When I was 6 I learned to swim. Or at least attempted to swim as much as I could without getting my face wet. The Yacht Club my family was a member of only offered lessons in the late spring, so most of my memories of swimming lessons involved freezing in the water on the cool spring mornings and my oldest sister trying to convince me that putting my face underwater wouldn’t kill me. To this day, I enjoy swimming and bike riding. I like to be active, although I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. I still dislike getting my face wet, but I love a brisk spring morning.

When I was 7 I learned that I was fat. I don’t know how exactly I found this bit of information out, I think that it was a comment made by my third grade teacher. When my class had a party she told me that I shouldn’t eat the chocolate cake because if I stayed fat then I would have a hard time finding a man to love me when I grew up. I remember thinking, at the time, why do I want a man? Mostly it just confused me, because all that I understood was that I was supposed to be ashamed for wanting a piece of cake like the other kids. After that I started to notice the whispers between well meaning Aunts and other relatives about me. I would hear bits and pieces of conversations. Things such as “She is such a pretty girl, it is a shame.” or “She has such a pretty face. If she can get rid of that baby fat she will be a beauty.” and worse “It’s all because her momma left. Everyone just spoils her and gives her cookies when she needs a mother.” I didn’t really understand what they meant, I just knew that for whatever reason, there was something horribly wrong with me, and that I ought to be ashamed. People had to whisper about it so it must be an awful thing.

When I was 8, I went on my first diet. It wasn’t my idea. My new stepmother was trying to “help me”. For months and months, everything I had to eat was monitored. I can recall the pictures of pigs that were stuck on the fridge and the freezer just to remind me when I wanted to sneak food that I didn’t want to be a pig. The next couple of years met with various attempts at making me lose weight. Some worked, some didn’t. I recall that in 4th grade I had managed to lose some baby fat, and all the teachers at my school would tell me how pretty I looked now that I had lost weight. The whole situation made me feel like my worth was some how connected to how much I ate, or rather how little I ate. Snack time at parties was always touchy. I always wanted to eat the candy like the other kids, but knew that I wasn’t supposed to, and that if I did someone’s mom was going to tell on me. Well meaning strangers would tell me that I didn’t need whatever snack I was eating. The worst time was when the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus started leaving carrot and celery sticks for me with notes explaining that when I was thin they would start giving me candy like they left for my sisters.

When I was 11, I started Slim Fast. Not even close to starting puberty, and I was having to drink a shake for breakfast and one for dinner. While the rest of the family would eat dinner and dessert, I was stuck trying to drink the chalky, milk diet supplement. Before I was twelve, my stepmother started giving me diet pills to take everyday. I still remember the box they came in. They were called AIDES and where in a box that was supposed to look like a candy box. They were chocolate covered speed basically. I learned how to sneak food and hide it in my room. When I would have a bad day, I would go to my room and stuff my face with all the delicious treats that I had managed to pilfer throughout the week. Afterward I would be on a sugar high; red faced, chocolate fingered and filled with shame. At school, I still knew that I was different. The constant teasing from the boys, the sing song chants and practical jokes where met with the idea that somehow I deserved them as punishment for being too weak to lose the weight.
When I started middle school, I promised myself that I would finally try to be thin like everyone else. I tried, but still never managed to get there. Our school gym class had wonderful uniforms complete with polyester short shorts. I was always embarrassed to participate because I knew that my pale fat thighs were wobbling to the amusement of all the boys in my class. Boys were always teasing me by telling me that some other boy liked me. I never believed them, and would be mortified watching the boys laugh about having told the pig that someone liked her. At home it was worse. My stepmother would point out morbidly obese people at stores and tell me I wasn’t far from looking like that. That I should be ashamed of myself. I had to shop in the pretty plus section of department stores, and often was forced to wear ill fitting ugly clothes.

When I was 15, I had perfected wearing baggy clothes and trying not to be noticed. I tried to pretend like I didn’t have a weight problem, but still it was difficult to ever put myself out there too much. I knew that I should not draw too much attention to myself, and that somehow if I managed to be nice and funny then maybe people wouldn’t notice too much. I would sit at home on weekend in my bedroom and daydream about all the fun I would have if I were a thin teenager. Finally, I just decided to get busy and be proud to be a fat girl.

When I started college, I was buying snack food and other junk food and hiding it in my dorm rooms. Binge eating was a favorite pastime. I was jealous of the bulimic girls on my hall, I just didn’t have the nerve to make myself throw up after the binge. I buried my misery with alcohol and drug experimentation. I learned quick that drunk guys didn’t notice I was fat and that the stoners didn’t care, they were just glad to have someone around that would always bring snacks.

When I was 19, I had a daughter and married a man I thought was going to love me forever. He left me for someone else, and in a lot of ways, I thought that was again punishment for being fat. I still was proud to be a fat girl. I thought this was growth. At least I wasn’t beating myself up about it. I was accepting it, and willing to take the punishment for it. It makes me sick when I recall the money I spent on gym memberships, diet pills, miracle drugs, nutritional counseling, weight loss support groups and books on the latest diet fads. I probably know more about food than most people with degrees in nutrition. Every new doctor I had would give me the speech about how if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. So many time I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying “Really? Are you serious? Can it be that simple? Let me get this staight- if I eat fewer calories than… Oh My God! I finally get it! I understand! I am healed! Cured! Saved! Thank you Jesus for taking the blinders from my eyes!”.

Now, I am no longer proud to be a fat girl and I no longer binge eat. I look back and realize that I shouldn’t be ashamed of being fat. I should be ashamed of not allowing people to take my picture when I was younger, or never having taken a family portrait take because I couldn’t stand looking at myself. For never having gone to an water park for fear of being seen in a bathing suit. For not having the nerve to dance at a club or flirt with a hot guy. For learning how to go to the pool with my daughter and keep myself wrapped in a sarong and never getting in the water. For being to embarrassed to play with her on a playground, for always settling for less than I wanted. For allowing people in my life walk all over me, for always blaming myself first. For all of these things, I should be ashamed.

There are at least a thousand adjectives I could use to describe myself- smart, funny, kind, sweet, interesting, clever, witty or beautiful-and for almost all of my life the only one I could relate to me was fat. That adjective always came first. I never realized that I wasn’t my body. That the size of my body has nothing to do with who I am.

I look at myself now, at 34, and I like what I see. I am 5’8, I weigh 243lbs and I wear a size 18. My thighs are strong and sturdy. They have carried me throughout my life, and I like their softness and the curve of my hips. My belly is streaked with silvery stretch marks and a long, jagged vertical scar marks the lose skin on my lower abdomen. These are scars from nurturing another life in my womb and giving birth. My breasts are large and sagging slightly as time progresses. They are firm and have nursed two children. My arms are soft and dimpled. They are strong enough to hold the people I love tight, and strong enough to let them go. My skin is pale-soft and smooth, my curves are ample and built for snuggling. I look at myself, naked in the mirror and I see all of this. I see my strength, my broad shoulders the sturdiness that comes from being firmly planted in reality. I am a soft place to land. A safe haven. Built for comfort, not speed. I am beautiful. I will never be thin-but I will be happy. I am extraordinary

Published in: on December 16, 2007 at 1:10 am  Comments (3)  
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