Photo: Pasta e Ceci, by way of America’s Test Kitchen. I was on Facebook minding my own business when the recipe came up. I was intrigued and made it on Monday. Absolutely, hands down, delicious. Makes awesome leftovers, too. I did the recipe in a straightforward way on Monday (adding more anchovy, though, because 1 is never enough… and more seasoning because those girls don’t ever put enough in). Next time, I’m making it my own. More tomato, for sure. Anyway, look it up and get cooking. It’s awesome, quick, delicious comfort in a bowl.
A dear friend called me away from work I was doing to speak with her. “I’m going to give you something and you can’t say no. It’s from God.”
“Oh Lordy,” I responded.
She handed me an envelope, wrapped in a sparkling bag. A very generous gift certificate to a local spa. “I just wanted to bless with something. You’ve been working so hard. Go get a deep tissue massage.”
What else could I do but let my jaw drop in awe? It’s an incredible gift, a wonderful gesture, a blessing, plain and simple. I thanked her and thanked her again, gave her a tight hug. She told me what wonders a good massage can do, what tensions it releases, how good it is for the soul.
“Have you ever had one before?” She asked me.
“No,” I answered, sheepish.
“Oh, you’re really in for a treat,” she said.
Then I asked, very sincerely, “Do you think they will mind working on a fat girl like me?”
She laughed. “Oh, you aren’t fat! Stop it!”
I laughed with her, but I was still sincere. “I mean, I am though. I dress it well, but there are lumps under these clothes!”
She still laughed. “I think you’re fine.”
But the question was real and is still real. It lingered with me as I fingered the envelope, turning it in my hands, while with myself yesterday. Haven’t I most recently written about this being the season of liking myself? And even the year before? But I’ve also written about how much I don’t really like my body. I live in my head because living in my body is foreign and difficult.
And now I’m presented with a pretty novel conundrum. I haven’t gotten a full-body massage ever because it’s an incredible expense. A selfish thing in a season of my life when selfishness, especially expensive selfishness, comes with incredible guilt. It has been easy to ignore it because it’s far and away from me. But, you know, here is this blessing.
And the conundrum comes with the practicing and the preaching. I write about liking myself, liking this body of mine, living in the body I have instead of feeling guilty about the body I think I might want (or is advertised to me, anyway). But it’s easy write those things when I’m really, essentially, writing about clothing. I don’t need a bikini. I can get a glorious one-piece or tank-kini or “swim skirt” or whatever. I don’t need slinky dresses when flowing maxis/sundresses will do. I can dress myself beautifully and be very comfortable when I look in the mirror.
But if I go get a massage
the clothes get stripped away.
Nothing to hide behind. Nothing to smooth out lumps. No well-cut lines, no preferred sillouhette. It’s me. Just me. As I am and absolutely nothing more.
It’s me and a person.
Their eyes on this flesh. Their hands on this body. My body.
This body I like, mostly.
This body I don’t share with people who don’t love me.
The thoughts about it have made me feel small. They’ve made me feel odd and oddly homesick. My fatness and Blackness on full display under eyes, New Englander eyes, is especially distressing. I get looks of disdain walking into a room fully clothed. It would be utterly dehumanizing to get that look, half naked, in an intimate space. I’m strong, but I don’t think I could survive that. I’ve survived a lot. I don’t think I could survive that and then be touched.
But even if I were home… would I do this? Could I do this?
So then I thought: well, maybe I won’t get a massage. Maybe I’ll get my feet done instead. Get a super-awesome pedicure. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Then I looked down at my feet. Oh, right, I hate my feet. They are quite neglected and winterized. I’d have to do them before I had them done, and that’s just… stupid.
A manicure? So wasteful. I wash dishes and scrub bathrooms.
I’ve found every single excuse to not do this thing. Every single “but” followed by a very justified “no.” I’ve thought about the apology I’d give to my friend. “It’s just so generous, I couldn’t possibly…” and then pulled back, knowing how rude and wrong it would be to do such a thing. And to let the gift languish would be just as bad. I’m bewildered by how a simple, wonderful luxury, a gift given with love, can present such a panicked moment.
Anyway, I write this all to write: writing is easy, living is hard. There is philosophy and then there is actual doing. When presented the opportunity to do, it’s not always so easy to take the leap. While I hope what I write, especially during my Quiet Thoughts, is encouraging, this is a good time to write a reminder and disclaimer: I’m not perfect. I’m so very human. Just as human as you. I ram into my flaws and my fears unexpectedly and often at full speed. Sometimes they knock the wind out of me. Other times, they knock me out cold. I’m standing at this brick wall, staring at it, wondering just exactly what I’m going to do about it. Feeling stupid because it’s such a first-world problem. Trying to be kind to myself, reminding myself that I am a flawed human in a big world.
It’s Wednesday and you are human. Be kind to yourself, Dear Reader. When the world is crazy and mean, choose to be kind anyway. Especially to yourself. It starts with you.
See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.