Maggie (2007) Watercolor on paper. --Sue Rubira
It's going to happen. It's happening already. It's been going on for some time. Maybe five years ago, I noticed that when I looked at photos I'd ask in confusion, "Who is that?" before the eye settled and realized it was me. The doughy under-chin. The turkey neck. The dark roots. The fat. The one, brave age spot on the right side of my face where the Montana sun beat down through the window on the passenger side.
Even my mother, through the fog of dementia, recognized that I have her mother's hands. She'd never said it before. I can only assume that she saw how my thumb knuckles seem to be swelling or lengthening - doing something strange, anyway - as I get older. And yes, my hands look like my grandmother's. Not when she was young, but when I knew her in the last part of her life.
Now, I let people take pictures of me and simply don't look at them. I'm not one of those hovering over someone else's camera display pressing the trash can button. I know that in ten years, I'll think I looked great. I think, while I pose and smile, of my youth and beauty and how I wasn't confident enough at 103 pounds to wear a bikini. That I thought I was fat when my weight climbed to 117.
Every pair of pants I try on, I'm still 42. Not 22. I can lose weight but I'm not going to lose my scars, or the extra skin that folds over them. I'm not going to spend $10,000 to get any of it removed. All I have is the memory of what it used to be like to be able to wear almost anything I tried on. My biggest problem in any dressing room was that my waist was too tiny relative to my bust.
I ran a 10K this past weekend and posted a photo of me crossing the finish line. It was all I could do not to caption it, "Fatty at the Finish." But I held it back. The girls are watching. What message does it send to train for something for so many months if you are only going to degrade yourself once you've met your goal? And, when I look back at the photo in ten years, what will I be thinking?
Will I be thinking that, at this weight (whatever it is, because I only weigh at the doctor's office and most of the time I make them keep the number to themselves) I could run seven miles; that I was stronger than I'd ever been at that point? That the race weekend was an incredibly happy weekend with John, the man I would marry just a few weeks later? That it was the perfect weather when we stood, that same weekend, under a blooming dogwood tree and held hands while we watched the old fire trucks and the floats and high school marching bands go by in a parade? Will I remember the play I saw in the city with my friend the next day? Or how John and I sat on the bed and talked all night afterward, playing with our cats and simply being happy?