Last weekend I went to Florida for one of my grandmother’s funerals. The night before all us grandkids went to her apartment and chose a few mementos to take back home. I took mostly photos, plus a cross stitched item, and a small vase.
Among the photos as a picture of me at about age sixteen.
What you can’t really see in the photo along with the braces is that I’m not squinting from the bright summer sun, but because I refused to take photos with my very thick, geek alert glasses.
Damn, I was skinny back then.
Somewhere, after three kids, a failed marriage, a new marriage to a man who feeds me so he doesn’t have to eat my lousy cooking, a deterioration of those squishy things between my vertebrae, one french fry too many and about 35 years. I now look like this.
Yes, I’ve been Bubble Wrapped by Mother Nature. Well at least that is what I want to call all that squishy padding I am walking around with these days. It could be that Mother Nature finally realized how amazingly accident prone I am, and decided it was about time she took some protective measures on my behalf. A bit late lady, a bit late.
I look back at that skinny girl and remember how awkward I felt, out-of-place, unsure of herself, unattractive and a bit lonely. I was just a few years away from a couple of decades of life of misery, poverty, and real loneliness, thanks to a disastrous marriage that I got myself trapped in. Part of me wishes I could go back to that skinny girl I once was and try to give a big boost to her floundering confidence, as well as warn her away from the man with pretty blue eyes and charisma that hid the evil underneath.
But even if that had been possible, I doubt the younger me would have listened or understood. Instead I honed what was to be one of my better assets, sheer unbridled tenacity. I used it to keep my children as safe and loved as I possibly could, teaching myself another vital skill, optimism, just so I could face yet another day. Meanwhile, ounce by ounce, the bubble wrap started to appear, wrapping me in courage, in hope, in confidence and in an embracing of myself as a geeky, heart on her sleeve wearing introverted pacifist with a quirky sense of humor. When I finally escaped marriage hell, that wrapping prepared me for the next stage of my life, where uncertainty was no longer to be feared, but met head on.
Deep beneath the layers of artery clogging layers of life, too little exercise and too much pizza, that skinny girl still lives, still awkward, sometimes lacking confidence, still questioning her attractiveness, but at peace with her former and her current self. She grouse sometimes about all the layering, that may or may not some day be abated somewhat, but she also knows the value of what it portrays. Somewhere along the line she discovered happiness and to be comfortable in her own skin, even if that skin was never going to ever have that much public exposure.