Letting Myself Be, At Least Until the Fog Rolls in Again

goldengate

A friend once commented he couldn’t believe how many people just let themselves go, referring to all the lazy unfit people in the world. His words have clunked around in my head longer than I’m sure either of us imagined they would, when he uttered them to me twenty-some years ago. We were workout partners and had just ridden some crazy long-ass ride in the Marin Headlands. Standing there next to our bikes overlooking the Golden Gate bridge, feeling invigorated and proud of our hard sweaty bodies, he said that. Like most people, I like to be in control, but I also have this Midwest voice in my head that says you’re a bad person if you’re lazy. So, when he said that, I remember thinking to myself,  I’ll never ever be one of those people who just “lets themselves go”.

Well, right now, I’m sitting here wondering how terrible it would be if I let myself let myself go? I mean not completely of course, just a little. Would it be so bad to sit around in the sunshine on my deck and luxuriate over the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times and maybe skip yoga for like a month or two or six? At what point of “letting myself go” would that idea change from good to bad… would there be a point where it would mean risking it all…would I get too smart-mouthed (I tend to get crabby and mean and depressed when I don’t exercise) and/or too curvy that nobody, including myself, would love me anymore?

It has been exactly six days since I got any real exercise other than walking my dog, which frankly doesn’t count, but I have no desire to move from this spot I’m in at all and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I guess what I’m really wondering is whether I will instinctively know when it’s time to move again? or will I have to wait until my favorite jeans are too tight or someone tells me I’m acting like a complete jerk? Or I’m crying? And maybe most importantly, either way, will I still be lovable?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sick. I’m not depressed. I don’t need someone to lift me up and drag me to do anything. I’m just tired, damn it. It feels like I carried around a heavy rock (okay a few) for years and I finally put them down for good. And now it’s like I’m sitting at a vista point looking out, pondering my desire to simply sit still with myself and read, write, listen to music and soak it all in (for an unknown period of time) which may mean, God forbid, I “let myself go” for a bit.

Funny, as I write this, John Legend is on Pandora singing “All of Me”. The lyrics make me long to be with someone who loves all of me… all my curves and all my edges. You know someone who doesn’t care if I go to yoga every single day to maintain my flat abs. Someone who thinks I’m beautiful even if I’m crying, around through every mood. Maybe someone who says I’m their downfall and their muse, their one desire, their worst distraction, their rhythm and blues. Someone who will love my perfect imperfections. I swore I’d never say this again, but I’d totally put all my heart cards on the table for someone who thinks like that….

Conveniently, as if on cue in some sappy movie, the beautiful vantage point of being a middle age, post-divorce woman becomes crystal clear. Ha! Suddenly sitting here on my deck I can see that this someone is already right here. That someone I desperately want to do all that loving of me with all my perfect imperfections… is me. That’s so awesome. And so, then I say, yes, let yourself go a little Julie. Enjoy the sunshine. I’ll always love you no matter what.

And don’t worry, you’ll know when it’s time to move again… probably when the fog rolls in (it never is this nice for longer than a day or two anyway). Then the only place for refuge from the damp chill that will go straight to your bones, is the hot yoga studio where your friends will welcome you back with open arms like they always do, even if it turns out to be six months or six years from now.

Maybe instead of thinking of it as letting myself go, I can think of it as letting myself be, here in the sunshine without worry or judgment, at least until the fog rolls in again.

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Pride

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My kids and I were in DC for spring break riding the Metro when we were diverted to a stop before ours due to a broken escalator. If you’ve been to the Bethesda Metro stop you know a broken escalator closes it. It was rush hour and people wanted to get home which meant there were lots of people, tired and frankly a little smelly. Along with everyone else in our situation, we piled in a complimentary shuttle bus at Friendship Heights.  The fact that you have no choice but to lift your arm up to reach the handles, only made matters worse in the smell department, though everyone was pretty kind about it. I got the feeling this wasn’t the first time this had happened. I suppose we could’ve walked home a few miles but we’d already put in lots at the museums plus this was just part of seeing the sights.

By the time the kids and I got on the bus, all the available seats were taken and we stood pressed against a very large woman in a maroon color track suit who was sitting on a matching electric scooter. Is it okay for me to admit, even though I was raised better than this, sometimes it’s impossible for me not to stare? I actually think some people, including this woman, dare me not to. Anyway, she had a pretty face and her energy was confident. She seemed kind but not apologetic by any stretch, even though she was taking up at least two full rows of seats by the time they were folded up to accommodate her. Her scooter had the word “Pride” written in cursive across the front, which seemed perfect somehow.

The woman’s bottom spilled over the seat and her thighs hid the rest of her legs. All you could see below her thighs were her relatively small shoes which had shiny silver buckles. In the metal basket in the front of her pride there was a crumpled McDonald’s bag and half drunk milkshake with sweat beads dripping down the side of the cup. It explained the french fry smell I was experiencing.

If I weren’t standing so close to her, literally about to sit on her lap, it might’ve been easier to look away but instead, I found myself totally captivated. I wondered why she was on the scooter? Was it a medical reason or a choice? I tried to imagine what her name might be and I tried out a few in my own head… queen names mostly like Regina and Kandiss.

Maybe if she weren’t wearing her hair in an elaborate braided crown of a bun (the same size as her head) I wouldn’t have been so curious about her hair and if she weren’t wearing a gold necklace with a giant snake pendant that looked like it was slithering down between her very large breasts, I wouldn’t have been so drawn to stare at her breasts. And her super long nails painted the same maroon color as her track suit and her scooter with large diamonds set in each nail, meant of course I’d look at her hands. Everything about this woman made it impossible for me not to stare.

Feeling guilty for looking at her — though honestly not judging so much as very curious– but not sure where else to look as there was nothing even remotely as interesting as she was, I decided to focus my attention on her “Pride”. There were two settings: slow (I assume it meant slow as it was simply a picture of a turtle) and on the other end was fast (again, I assume so, as it was a picture of a rabbit) and there were circles that increased in an arc from turtle to rabbit. I assume she could speed up or slow down simply by turning the knob. I had to wonder, by the time they loaded her and her Pride and all the rest of us, if she couldn’t have simply put that thing on “rabbit” mode and made it home faster than the rest of us in this shuttle bus that hadn’t even started to move?

I can’t even remember the point of this story now … except I was struck by the fact that in a thorough debrief with my children when we finally got off the bus, they hadn’t really noticed her and furthermore, they thought it was totally rude I had. “Mom, it’s impolite to stare”. Of course they’re right. I’m so glad someone is raising these two kids to be good people. In fact it fills me with pride. I, on the other hand, am going straight to hell since I can’t seem to help staring at certain things or people, soaking in every detail…especially when I feel like I’m being dared not to.