THE DAY BEFORE:
I’m scared. I want to throw up. I want to put my head between my knees; except, I can’t put my head between my knees. Could I ever? I have no idea. I also want to be able to sit in a chair or on the floor with my knees pulled up to my chest. If I pretzel myself in the right way, I can kinda, sorta, get one knee against my overly ample bosom. I’ve been feeling selfish and annoying— writing cute little status updates about my surgery or my impeding liquid diet. Then, I feel unsure about your enthusiasm. The body-celebrating confident plus-size girl wants to know why the fuck you are cheering. Wasn’t I good enough? Aren’t I good enough? Don’t you know I have zero health problems...oh, okay maybe a little sleep apnea that one kind man described as the sound of me drowning.
I have weird fears—fears about not losing weight. Fears about skin. Fears about my tattoos. Fears that I’ll fall in love after this surgery, and I’ll never know if that person would have loved me before.
Yep, That’s my biggest one. That’s the one I should probably keep on the leather couch with the perfectly placed pillows as my pretty southern belle therapist asks me where I think that comes from. We all want to be loved for who we are at this very moment. We want to be good enough. We want our round tummies and big butts and boobs to be admired, maybe even worshiped. And, we all know, I’ve never had a problem dating.
Despite society’s constant stream of messages that I’m not good enough, a good amount of living, breathing, flesh and bone men (and some women), have always thought I was good enough. Good enough share a meal with. Good enough to laugh with. Good enough to sleep with and Good enough to be seen holding my hand in public with. With the exception of one person, I have never felt shame naked in front of someone I’m seeing. And yet, I’m scared.
I’m scared this theoretical person will see before pictures and be utterly thankful for my surgery and good timing. God forbid that they might fall for my confidence or my humor or, deep breath, my mind. God forbid they might fall for whatever positive way this surgery changes me. Because as a good friend reminded me, it will change me. I can’t, at this point, besides the physicality and lack of physical limitation, imagine how. Then again, I can’t imagine seeing my formally sharp chin and cheek bones in the mirror.
Where are days one through seven? Well, I figured enough Facebook statuses kept you updated on my liquid diet. Every day has been a different feeling. Well, I should say, every day or couple of days has been a different feeling. At first, everything felt intense, so incredibly intense. If you know me in person, you already know that I’m already an intense person. This magnified it by a million. It made me grumpy and angry. It made me want to punch people. It also landed me into the land of huge disappointment...
As I said earlier, I have this fear of falling in love after surgery and never knowing if they would have loved me before I lost all the weight. Everyone knows that I’m constantly dating—sometimes for fun, sometimes for sport, sometimes for loneliness, and sometimes to actually find someone. What I never tell anyone, or hardly anyone, is that I’ve had a crush on the same guy for about four years. Give or take. It usually went away when I was in serious relationships with women or when he moved away for awhile. In all this time, I've never pursued anything with him. I’ve never been shy about such things, but I just didn’t want to go after him. I wanted to leave him there safely in my mind where he couldn’t hurt me or disappoint me as a human being. I kept our relationship strictly, shall we say, professional? Basically, I never wanted to break the fourth wall.
Of course, as with all things, my best friend knew about this crush. Our social circles vaguely cross and it being Delaware...well, everyone knows everyone in Delaware. So, on night two of my liquid diet— the part where grumpy and intense are revving up to destroy the world— we went to one of our favorite spots to watch live bands.
We were sitting at a table near the back next to the stage talking. Then, my best friend gets really quiet, looks at me, smiles, and says, “Isn’t that him?”
I swivel in my chair.
So, I look (stare, peer, throw my entire body against the glass..whatever)...there he is...standing alone cigarette in hand.
I am cool. I am calm. I am collected. I am hungry. I am intense. I want to hide in the bathroom. I want to scream into the air. Did I mention I was hungry? It’s not that I’ve never broken the fourth wall with him: he’s given me pointed advice on my terrible break-up with my evil ex-girlfriend. We’ve waved to each other at shows. We’ve said hi in public. But an actually real, out of the professional realm conversation? Never. He’s so awesome in my head. Why ruin that?
I try to look cool at my table. I involve myself in conversation with my best friend and the lead singer of the next band up. I drink my seltzer. I play with the straw. Then, I look up again. He’s standing in the middle of the room, still alone, beer in hand swaying ever-so-slightly to the music. I look at my best friend. “I am breathing,” I mouth to her. She laughs and playfully rolls her eyes. I look back at his direction, and he meets my eyes. He nods raising his bottle toward me. I smile and sorta kinda wave. I see this man almost every day, and yet, out of context, I want to hide under the table, which is a little hard when you are sitting at a high top.
“Don’t be ridiculous.” My best friend says. “It’s just hello.”
“She’s right,” I think to myself, “it’s just a smile.”
And then, suddenly, I get a simple and obvious idea in my head...I’m going to buy him a drink.
Now, I need a plan. Because I am about to break that damn fourth wall. I am about to break four years of keeping him in my head. I am, so they say, making a move. Now, I have to watch him without him knowing that I am watching him. (Remember, I am starving at this point, so everything is in intense slow motion). I am 17 all over again (sorry, I’m about to call you out), and Carson is standing at his locker before Social Psychology. Now, the question is: how do I know when he needs a new beer? Do I wait until then? Do I make my way across the room? Does my cleavage look awesome? Have my pink curls become unruly? Why didn’t I wear my red chucks? I am so uncool.
Then, he turns and walks toward the front door, which is blocked from my view. He is going outside for another cigarette. Perfect. I can see him from the window (nothing creepy-stalker about that...in fact, nothing creepy stalker about any of this). I wait. I try really hard not to stare. After a few minutes, I make my way towards the bar. I look down at my cleavage for the millionth time (my safety blanket) and sorta stand somewhere between the front door and the bar. I pretend to pay attention to the music. Because when you are in my heightened state of starvation or just a typical Friday night in my head, everyone seems to be staring at me...waiting for me to make a fool of myself. Finally, he comes back in walking that casual laid-back walk of his. I quickly move closer to the bar. I am next to him. “Hey,” I say.
“Hey. How’s it going?”
“It’s good. Enjoying the band?”
“Sorta...the musicians are good. But…” He trails off.
“The lead singer kinda sucks.” I finish his sentence.
“Yes. Exactly.” He laughs
“Get some voice lessons dude.”
“Yeah, it’s like he really wanted to start a band, so he got all his talented friends together, but forgot to bring his talent to the table.”
I laugh. “ They do have some lit suspenders.” (did I just say lit? What am I? 13?)
“They sure do.”
There is a pause in the conversation. He moves a little closer to the bar.
“Hey,” I say before he moves any closer.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“What are you drinking,”
He shows he bottle to me. Either he flashes it too quickly or I can’t think hard enough. “I’ve never tried it before. It’s good. I think I’ll get it again.”
“Cool, lead the way.” I follow him. He orders his drink. I get another seltzer and I pay.
At this point, he could have thanked me and walked away. He could have thanked me and stayed for a few minutes, and then taken any excuse in the world to find a better place to stand. But he didn’t. He stayed with me. We bantered; we talked; we had real conversation. It’s hard to explain when the person you’ve had a crush on for years turns out to be….well, an actual worthwhile, intelligent, funny, thoughtful person. It’s hard to explain when the person you’ve had a crush on for years laughs at your jokes and doesn’t move away ever-so-slightly when you touch his hand. It’s hard to explain when they lean in closer to make a snide remark about the bored looking bassist in the last band or the odd choice of cover songs. It’s hard to explain when you’re starving in so many ways and detoxing. It’s hard to explain when every feeling you’ve ever had about yourself, your life, your history is just starting to bubble up to the surface on this crazy path you’ve chosen to take. Intensity.
So, combine my intensity with the intoxicating experience of feeling like the person you kept yourself away from for so long because they could never live up to your expectations actually lives up to your expectations.
We all have a list of what we want in another person. I’ve probably shared that list a million times. It was like with every turn of our conversation, I could check off another item on my list. And no, I was not checking off my list in the moment, but when I played it back in my head, I certainly did.
Usually, I never follow the damn list. The last guy was not an intellectual, but I tried to stick it out because he was a nice guy. And as my favorite new quote basically says, describing someone as a nice guy is like saying the restaurant was good because it didn’t make you sick. The guy before him showed his narcissistic colors almost immediately, but I gave him one too many chances because he was so damn smart, and when he wasn’t being mean, was actually funny. Plus...he promised to custom build my kid a BMX bike. I’m not proud of that one. I’ve at least learned to put the kibosh on conservatives immediately (with the exception of the gorgeous Latino who wore cuff links to work, who ended up breaking it off with me when he noticed the pink pussy hat in my bedroom).
But, there I was, completely, unexpectedly finding myself in a night-long conversation with a man who fit.
When the night was over, we left at the same time—our cars parked less than half a block away from each other. We stood around outside talking with my best friend and her boyfriend and probably a few other people I can’t picture. He kept saying he was leaving. I said I was leaving, but he hadn’t made a move to actually leave yet. So, this is when my brain went from being fully present to questioning. Do I just leave? Do I wait for him? Do I walk with him to his car? Do I find a way for him to stop at my car? I don’t really want him to stop in front of my car because everyone else is still standing outside the bar, and that would be awkward. It happened much faster than I can get all these thoughts down. I got to my car. He walked to his car.
I screamed, “Hey, I had lots of fun. We should hang out.”
“Sure!” He yells back
And then, because I can’t freaking help myself, I scream back, “Of course, don’t feel obligated.”
Who says that? Why would I say that? Can I not be weird for three seconds?
“I wouldn’t,” he yells back...then we get in our cars.
What a lovely story! Wow Shosh! That’s so awesome. You must be so excited. See, the universe dropped him in your lap at the perfect time, so you’d never have to question whether or not he would have liked you before your surgery. Yeah Universe!
Ah yes, can I not be weird for three seconds? Can I not be starving and dizzy and grumpy and angry and….intense….very very very intense?
Because normal girl might listen to her best friend and just wait it out.
A normal girl might not Facebook message him the next afternoon telling him that I had fun that night.
And a normal girl might not have brought her daughter into his work the next day so he could make her the only tea that makes her feel less shitty.
A normal girl might not have asked him what he was doing on Sunday night.
A normal girl might not have gone back the next day with her daughter in tow (after he messaged her that said daughter left a toy at the shop). Maybe Miss. Normal wouldn’t have asked again about that night.
But the thing is, I did. And when I went in Sunday afternoon, he said that he was working on some band “stuff” online, and he might go out drinking after.
I, of course, jumped right in, “Hey, if you need a sober drinking buddy…”
He laughs (he laughs a lot),” Yeah, sure, if I go out, I’ll write you.”
“Yep, you know how to reach me.”
I smile sweetly, take my daughter, and walk out the door.
Of course, after he texted about the toy the day before, I texted back. He texted back. Then I texted back with my overabundant wordiness. One text about my daughter’s excitement over his name. Then a subsequent text about the failures of auto-correct. Another text a few hours later, connecting something I saw to our conversation the night before. And then a third text on Sunday evening, asking how his music stuff was going.
Guess how many of those texts he read? I know you’re waiting with baited breath. ZERO. After telling me my daughter left her toy in the store, he never read another text from me.
Guess how awesome my Sunday night not drinking with him was? Yep, never happened. He never read my texts. He never texted me to say he was going out….fuck, he never even texted me to say he wasn’t going out.
It was a whole lot of nothing.
Was I overly-excited? Was I too intense? Did I come on too strong? I have no idea. I have gone over this from every angle with any friend who will even pretend to listen. Of course.
I am completely raw right now. I feel like every nerve is exposed. I did the one thing that, for once in my life, I had actually stuck to NOT doing. Me, of all people. The girl with no shame. The one who goes after whatever with full intensity and intent. I held back for all those years. But, I was hungry, and I couldn’t fucking help myself. And I’m still hungry. The world is still intense. I’m still battling every demon that brought me to the point where I have to starve and then mutilate my body in order to gain some semblance of control.
Even now, I refuse to find another place to do work, so a week after that night, I’m back sitting at a table in my coffee shop with him behind the counter. He made me my tea just the way I like. We bantered. I made him laugh. There is no sign that any of this mattered to him.
My friends, of course, have lots of theories. He’s got other things on his plate. He’s not attracted to me chubby but might come around when I’m thinner (that’s a whole other post for another day). Or he’s simply not attracted to me.
I am pretty sure that it’s simply not that deep. Just that he’s a good guy who happens to possess many of the qualities I have on my list, who was just being nice and social to a long-time customer who bought him a drink. Yes, he didn’t have to stick by my side all night. Yes, it didn’t feel one-sided. However, what do I know? What does anyone know?
I do know that I lost my stable fantasy that never hurt me for a reality that doesn’t seem to care either way. That sucks. And either way, I’m hungry and I’m so fucking hurt.