I have gadzooks of writing to do today. Seeing as how I’m a writer among other things, this is not a surprising thing. However, in this case I’ve got gadzooks of writing to do for work as well. So yeah. There comes a time when you can’t procrastinate any longer on certain projects. This rubber needs to meet the road and in a hurry. But I also need to buy some pants.
Now, I suppose some of you might be envisioning me sitting in my rather drafty house writing sans pants but I can assure you, that is not the case. Perhaps if it were hotter than the hinges of hell, I might consider typing without pants, but seeing as how it is November in the northwest, we are all safe from that occurrence.
Back to the writing bit (which seems safer all around). I’m writing a play of sorts for a performance coming up in December. Yes, I am aware of the date. Anyhoo, thinking about the kids and the roles for each kid and such things got me thinking about how many times I’ve done this (gobs) and the many faces I’ve watched be awesome at the holidays (even more). And you know what? Those kinds of thoughts are always like a big ole bar of good chocolate. A little bit sweet and a little bit bitter.
There are hundreds of faces in my memories of working with kids. Hundreds and hundreds. At the oddest times flashes of young faces return to me – a smile, the way a student fidgeted in the desk, snippets of papers. Not many still have names after this long, but a few do.
Dagaberto was a freshman when I was a student teacher. When he learned I would not be there in the fall, his face crumpled. “But, maestra, who will teach my brother?” That was in 1995.
Periodically I get news from former students – weddings, divorces, babies, graduations, new jobs. And I am always thrilled that they cared enough to think of me. And yet I’m always a bit dismayed. Really, you have a baby? Aren’t you just a teen still…well, I guess not. Those faces of students from years ago now belong to grown-ups and I can’t help but wonder how the heck that happened.
One of the first events I did where I work, those kids were so stinking cute. And now they are in college or working “real” jobs. Grown-ups.
One young man, in my first memory of him, had this head of big loopy dark curls. His voice was nice and solid when he spoke at the microphone. But it wasn’t the voice of a man. He was still a boy on the cusp. Now when I look at his Facebook updates, I have to look closely to see that boy I once wrapped a scarf around his neck and tried to smile encouragement for. Now he doesn’t need me to believe in him.
Or maybe he does.
There was a time when I was a youngster. There was a time when buying me pants only required one lament — finding them long enough. That was years ago when I was a beanpole of scrawniness. I’m 5’2″ and have been nearly this tall since I was 9. But at 9, I was thin enough that all my grandmother’s friends fed me sandwiches and cookies, exclaiming I needed some meat on my bones.
It’s been a long, long time since I was able to walk into a store and just pick up an item and assume it would fit. Now days, new clothes means taking a deep breath, girding my emotional loins, and getting luckier than a high school boy at Prom.
When I was 29, I had a major surgery. I had an extensive bunionectomy done on both my feet. It is one of the worst things a surgeon can do to a body and my surgeon made it clear that the pain in my feet needed to be bad enough to make the surgery worth it. I elected yes and to have them done at the same time. (It’s good to know yourself. If I’d done only one, I would never have gone back to do the second.)
I went to an IB workshop in New Mexico for the last week in July where I ate and drank to my heart’s content. Then I came home and did my pre-op stuff. When I stepped on the scale, it was the largest number I’d ever read in relation to my weight. I remember thinking, “Huh. Well that’s not awesome.”
Post surgery my husband eventually had to go back to work and would leave me a well-stocked nightstand: my pill bottles, several water bottles, and a collection of cups of applesauce and chocolate pudding. The dog sleeping on the floor beside me, I dozed through a week of heavy pain and a heavier pain-killer-haze.
And the next time I weighed myself, the number was much smaller. For the first time in my entire life, I was full after only a small portion. This was a huge moment for me as I’ve always eaten my stress/pain/anxiety and so eating half a large pizza is really no hardship for me, even with a side salad and some breadsticks. But that August as I was approaching the start of a new school year and several hundred new students, as well as my 30th birthday, I made a decision. I would lose the weight that had slowly been finding its home on my 5’2″ frame.
It took me until the next May but I eventually hit 120. I looked pretty great and felt very proud of myself. I’d done it not by puking, starving, or obsessive exercise which is how I had always treated my body as a pre-teen and teenager. Instead, I had just paid attention to calories in and calories out.
I started school that year in a wheel chair and crutches and by that spring ran my first race.
And I, for the first time since high school, was able to go into a store and pick up a pair of pants and know they would fit.
That was 4 pregnancies and 4 bouts of post-partum depression and anti-depressants ago.
Now I take nothing for granted. Now I know that nothing is a given.
And now what matters most is that there are young people whom I write for who will grow up and make the world a better place and I will get to vicariously experience it just by having known them in some way. What matters most is that I believe in the people in my life and they believe in me, regardless of what numbers might be attached to us.
But I sure wouldn’t mind being able to pick up a pair of pants and not flinch a little bit when I head into the fitting room.