I ran into our new office neighbors in the Ladies Room. Well, one of them. I suspected it was her because my boss kept describing them as “A blonde and a brunette. Always in jeans.” She was indeed wearing jeans, sloppily rinsing dishware, dark hair chaotic in a bun, and eyeliner thick under her eyes.
I didn’t say hello – it choked in my throat. I was rinsing my own dishware; an old school glass coffee pot I’m obsessed with keeping from staining. Another office neighbor I’m actually familiar with walked in; vibrant in a purple dress with smart looking heels. I warmly greeted her; secretly dreading our habitual outfit compliments to one another.
“How’s your job going?” She asked.
I’m always ready to respond with the latest complaints but, I had none. I had been choosing to go to work with a different mindset: gratitude. I adjusted my response,
“It’s good. I’m choosing to be grateful.”
It’s not an exciting job; but it’s my choice to be here. I’m also choosing to write every Friday afternoon. I’m grateful I can add that bit of excitement if I want to. There are hobbies I can develop because my job isn’t sexy.
I didn’t realize he was mean at first. We’d run into each other on the way to the restroom and exchange niceties. If I would ask him how his day was going, he’d say:
“It’s going well enough. Yours?” and I would say something awful like “I can’t complain.” I knew it would end there, I’d soon be surrounded by the safety of a bathroom stall. I have enough social grace to greet a person, but enough social anxiety to not want it to go any further.
Once, tall man joined me for a walk around my building. I couldn’t believe it, and I certainly didn’t invite it. I never saw him out and about before. But there he was, right beside me, his stride a lot longer. I looked up at his long face and noticed a giant wart on his left cheek. I started our conversation by saying something equally cringe-worthy to the hallway exchange.
I decided to write something different today. Knowing full well this account is connected to people I know, and being unafraid to put myself out there for fear of judgment.
Here it is:
I went to a party on the Fourth of July. I was twenty-nine, two months away from turning the big three-oh. I remember anticipating this party and finding it annoyingly intimidating. These were friends of ours who were all at similar stages in their lives. Successful entrepreneurs, people with enviable career achievements. All in healthy marriages with beautiful babies.
Not enough fuck-ups for my liking.
I have massive insecurities about my body. Like many people, these insecurities stem from lots of teasing/taunting from childhood into adulthood. I wish compliments permeated as well as insults. It doesn’t matter how exhaustive the time spent on my body/nutrition is; it all comes down to one thing: it’s never enough. I rarely view my reflection with affection.
I have gratitude though; yoga gave me a different angle. My mat became an extension of me. I’d gaze down at my body in movement, or holding a pose (asanas, yes?) and feel pride. But the self-doubt consumed me – the obsession with image disturbs me. And the search for perfection continues (or whatever my brain has deemed perfection).
Really, I love all bodies; all sizes from the super skinny to the larger scaled. I have a different point of what I like for myself. My most wanted figure is athletic, tiny chested, with an ass that says, “I did 100 squats for breakfast.” And the journey toward that has been long, man. Mostly KO’d by disastrous affairs with prosecco, and a self-medicated relationship with chocolate.
We’re all beautiful. I love every single person for what defines them, physically and intellectually. I just wish I gave myself the same love.
My Grandmom Gert smoked Winston’s. I would sit outside with her and she would tell me stories about her childhood that would make me laugh and feel sad all at once. She was an expressive story teller; her eyes would widen, her hands would gesture, her laugh had a ripple effect. She could be crass, snarky, and brutal with her depiction of people who let her down.
I feel close to her ’til this day.
When I was (maybe) twenty years old she had been dead for a year and I can recall laying on the side of our pool with a pack of cigarettes I had purchased on my own. I chose Marlboro Lights; the brand my best friend was using before she finally quit. I was never a smoker, but felt the drive to be a part of whatever made the people I love do it. I lit it up and probably didn’t inhale properly.
I let the cigarette burn up quickly as it sat inbetween my fingers, half of my leg dangling in the pool. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel my grandmom’s stories sweep over me and take away the loss. And I never smoked again.
via Daily Prompt: Smoke
I’m cranky and the car in front of me isn’t helping. They are moving slow, and I’m sure it’s on purpose. Despite my annoyance I’m careful to never tailgate people; I don’t like road rage in myself or in others. I like to ask myself: what if they’re sick? What if someone in their lives is sick? What are the circumstances in their life? Are they in pain?
Even if they are none of these things, who am I to dictate how other people drive?
I keep a good distance but I remain annoyed. I look over to my right and there’s a man on a bicycle. He’s dressed in dark khaki shorts and a black and white striped top. It looks like he might even be wearing sandals on this (relatively) chilly Florida day. I see him reach for dangling Spanish moss from the trees he’s passing under. As he flies by me he lets it dance in the wind from his hand in a childlike manner.
I watch him eventually discard it, but this moment quiets me. It quiets my irritation, and makes me long to be surrounded by people who look at life with wonder.