Carry on Tuesday: Once Upon A Time

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge a...

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in fog and crepuscular rays. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time once, not so long ago, when I was chubby, fat, or just pleasantly plump. In Italy I would have been a goddess. Men would have followed me down the cobble stoned streets, whistling and begging to touch my beautiful breasts and my bountiful behind. Unfortunately, I wasn’t living in Italy, I was here in the United States, where all I really wanted was to be slender. I thought if I was thin, all my problems would dissipate like the mysterious fog in San Francisco. I imagined the fog lifting while I watched, wearing a heavy knit red sweater and sitting peacefully on a huge rock.

A couple of months ago I was very sick, (on top of my chronic illnesses” Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, IBS) I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t leave my house or the bathroom for an entire four weeks. I was pale, gaunt and looked ill. People on the street would ask me guardedly “If I was okay?” Part of me, if I had a sense of humor back then wanted to say “Of course, I’m in the middle-aged super model competition” but I had no sense of humor at the time. The other part of me was scared to speak so I just said “I’m fine” which people accept with relief and don’t follow-up with questions.

All my life there was always something about me that I wanted to change and after I changed it, I thought I would be happy: my weight, my hair, my glasses, wearing make-up, dressing better, nice shoes, tinting my hair to cover the tiny amount of gray that swirled in front of my face. The gray hair that I had been so proud to have, to acknowledge my real place in the world, as someone who had already experienced a great deal of life and had earned them with pride.

Having been married for 24 years with two young adults doing well in college was proof enough and even though I did go through a time feeling sorry for myself that the kids ” didn’t need me anymore” I realized my husband and I had done a very good job of parenting. I admit, I needed to remind myself that loving and needing were two very different things, they would love me as their mom but their lives and our lives would be constantly changing. Yes, sometimes it changes so quickly it was hard to keep up, that’s when I found myself alone, crying into an old, soft, handkerchief and feeling sorry for myself. I learned to accept that too. You have no choice.

Six weeks ago I went from eating and being lively to not eating and not feeling well, I lost over 30 pounds and before you coo and ooh and ahhh and wish it was you I can tell you, you better take that back. I did not enjoy clothes falling from my body, or food flowing through me, and not being able to go outside of my house for four weeks. The doctor scheduled me for every “cancer” test known to humanity and that was not fun. The doctor, not known for his bedside matter, actually told me WHAT he was testing for when we first met him in his office. Thanks, Doc, nice touch.

I will be getting the results later this week, I’m hoping that everything will be fine, I’m ( fairly) certain that they will be. The symptoms stopped a few days after my office visit and while I haven’t gained a lot of weight back, I do get hungry and I feel better. My newest ( little ) problem is this: I went to shop for new jeans and found that there are no jeans for women of my age. They have skinny jeans, under the waist jeans and jeans for teenagers with lithe bodies. Basically, the clothes that I have are four sizes too big for me and the style out there now are for teenagers only. I have nothing to wear, I miss my “Mom jeans.” It is impossible to find them, anywhere. Suggestions?

All that I have accomplished in this quest are the lack of clothes to wear and the acquisition of numerous wrinkles. I sat outside in the sun for a few moments, noticing all the wrinkles on my knees and thighs that were not there before. As I sat, warming my face, was I thinking about the good things in my life in a delighted way? No. I was thinking about the barium test (drinking chalk) that I have to drink tomorrow morning at eight am and where to aim my projectile vomiting. That, at least, is amusing me.

Be happy with what you have and who you are. As my dad used to say “Health is the most important thing.”¬† It’s the only thing, be grateful.

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I’m Older Than That Now

Portrait from India 15

Portrait from India 15 (Photo credit: Zuhair Ahmad)

A new, younger friend, was hesitant to write her feelings down on paper.

Why not? I thought.

And then I remembered and rejoiced in that knowledge.

I’m too old for games, I wrote,
but I can understand why you would be hesitant.
I was like that too, at your age.
I now have the freedom not to care what others think.
Freedom not to even think about what others think, not to hesitate, just say what’s on my mind, politely.
What a luxury, a new luxury  that I had taken for granted. A gift. A heavenly gift.
I never realized it before until the younger one said “I thought about it but I didn’t say anything”
I had forgotten that hesitancy until I was reminded of it.
It’s like inhaling a deep breath, holding it in and effortlessly letting it go,
letting it seep into all the crevices of life, be it ocean or wind, or water.
Drifting aimlessly like a freed red kite among the unencumbered blue sky.
I have earned this.
This is my gift to myself.
I will pride myself on not dyeing my hair, for the few strands that are gray and white,
I will wear them with authenticity.
I will continue to throw back my head with my hair long and laugh.
There really is wisdom, joy and freedom in older age.
Even, especially if you don’t seek it;
it will find you.
Keep your heart open to receiving that gift.