You. You're only a boy, the way I remember you. You're a boy with a grown up's suit that doesn't fit quite right. We're hungover in an anonymous hotel room in Connecticut. We haven't spoken in almost five years, but I'm shirtless and startling from under a starched white comforter to answer the phone. It's our wake up call. We're almost strangers, again, it's been so long, but I'm brave and round and perfect and bare next to you. Should we skip our friend's wedding and spend the weekend here, in a Comfort Inn across the state line? Yes, I am thinking, but we get up eventually, slipping carefully from the covers. I glance at your body, it's a foreign thing to me and I have no idea how I'll know everything about you, someday.
I wish we had been married, then, on that trip to New England.
I wish we could go back in time to fumble over one another, apologizing for being so brash. I wish that I had known you forever, the first time we touched.
Years have gone by and I'm tired. I'm a woman and I'm a mom and I'm exhausted down to the scuffed up soles of my feet. I feel for a moment that it's woman's work, being worn down. That too many things are expected of every mommy, it's just part of the job.
But... do my children request more of me than I'm able to give? When Scout wakes me up at 3am, screaming that her blanket has fallen off of her bed, is that too much? I pull myself out of bed and stumble the hallway to kneel beside her. "You're a big girl, now," I say. "You can pick your blanket up by yourself. Let me see you do it." She can do it. She didn't need to call for me. Was that really too much for me to bear, though?
I don't eat until noon. It's my latest attempt at calorie cutting. I'm painting the bathroom, but I need a special screw to attach the medicine cabinet to the wall, so it's sitting in the hallway, perpetually open with its contents spilling onto the rug. I feed my kids and dress them, I shower and we go to the hardware store. I'm the kind of mom that lets my girl have a cookie while we shop, and I always say, "That's an awfully big cookie for such a small girl." Louisey bumps her head on the shopping cart, and before she even thinks to cry, I scoop her up and hold her close and tell her how she's a poor, poor dear. All the while, I'm wearing my running shoes, in case an opportunity to exercise happens upon me, this afternoon. I'm hungry, but I can eat at lunch. I'll drop Scouty off at school and then I'll walk with the baby, maybe. I'll eat, finally, and this evening, I can go to the gym.
What a terrible relationship I have with my femininity. Why can I not treat myself the way I treat my girls? Is it simply true that every one of my movements isn't sacred? That my girls are total marvels of creation, but I'm not special? I'm only the reason they exist. I'm only the thing that made them the perfect people they are. Is it really true that I'm too fat or grown up or scheduled to be a poor, poor dear?
I'm tired in a way that drains some of the color out of the rest of the world. I go around avoiding my impulses and fostering an ability to complete tasks I find distasteful. I get up early to lift my heaviness. I stay up late to run. The world goes by me and I don't have the energy to care. I'm busy figuring out my calories for the day. I'm busy putting the laundry away. I live a life full of absurd beauty, I know that to be true... but I also waste my time standing sideways in a mirror and brushing my skirt down to evaluate my butt.
I remember myself, when we were only dating. How you would be dressing for work, and I would wander into the kitchen wrapped in the comforter from your childhood bed. I was fully aware of the print of my lips on your coffee cup, of the way my bare leg draped across the arm of your couch. My body was mostly the same, then, as it is now... without cesarean scars, maybe. More resolute where I'm now sagging, but I was the same shape, overall. I didn't hate myself then for not being good enough. My body begged you back out of your buttoned cuffs and I was big and full in the light of the muted tv at 7am, while the rest of the world headed to work.
Now, I beat the femininity out of me, opting to focus on my drive and abilities. I am capable of doing it all! Only, doing it all doesn't include being a ridiculously sexy girl who remembers how to give herself over to an afternoon with nothing to do. Doing it all doesn't include experiencing pleasure... at least not the kind of pleasure that's meant for only me. I experience the pleasure of adulthood, of being responsible for something other than me. I never get off on anything, anymore. That's one thing I can't seem to do, but boy can I lift a lot of grocery bags at once! I'd like to hike a mountain this summer, I say. Doing it all doesn't include being easy with myself, like I am with my girls. It doesn't include being a poor, poor dear... or a small creature with a really big cookie.
I am not tired because my life is asking too much from me. I'm tired because I'm disconnected with my body's purpose. I'm tired because I'm not a sexy girl, anymore. I'm tired because I ask myself to be something I'm not. I ask myself to be with it and structured and to have control over my appetites. I ask myself to deny pleasure, to use every moment of my life usefully.
I don't really want to be the things I'm forcing myself to be.
I don't actually give a shit about being skinny.
I don't really want to be more acceptable.
I don't really care if you look at me on the street and want to be like me.
Women get inspired by the idea of being free. Of stopping shopping. Somebody decides it's a life project to only buy as many clothes as she needs, to wear the same dress for a year, and modern women simply die of this idea. How free we would be, if we had less stuff, if we cared less about the way we appear! I get inspired for a moment, too... but then I realize that this plan of living on less isn't really any different than being poor. I look down, and I'm wearing the same thing I've been wearing all month. Why am I not inspired by my own life project? Why do I need to be something more free? Why do I not know that I am free now?
We don't need to be scouring the internet for pictures of outfits somebody else is wearing this week. We've got a whole world of possibilities to choose from, and we're allowed to make those choices ourselves. There's no pressure. Just pick something you like and put it on and it's you. I'm sick of being tough with myself. I want to eat breakfast and I want to waste my time. I'm tired because all of this... restricting and pushing and denying... it's all a symptom that I forget how to be a woman. I forget how to be a proud naked girl who is willing to free up the rest of her week to learn the lines of your body.