Strategic Steps

Every once in a while, I’ll wonder if I’ve shared too much on here.

I’ll wonder whether I’d want a Professional Person to be able to stumble across something I’ve written. (While sitting Indian-style, in my pajamas, at the breakfast table. While wearing holey socks, while weeping into my soggier-by-the-second cereal, while seriously debating going over to sit in my mother’s lap.)

Let’s just take another chance, shall we?

Has anyone ever asked you how old you feel? Not how old you are, but how old you feel. Today I feel about thirteen. Thirteen — and maybe without a date to the school dance. MY LIFE IS OVER. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.

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Was that seriously ten years ago? A decade, ago? I feel like we are too young to be talking decades. Much too young. (This is where you nod your head yes.)

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I look young, too. At the moment. There are lines where there were curves, once; hollows where there were hills, before. Gentle, sloping hills. Hills I hated.

A therapist would have a field day with this. Is going to have a field day with this. 

I am too thin. I am too sad. Too alone, too lonely — too something. And I am too anxious. Always, too anxious. I have to go back.

It is no longer the kind of thin that I feel like I can fix myself. You know, just by eating more. A little more, at every meal.

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Or by saying: more Italian, in this (one and only) life.

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This kind of thin — it’s the kind that means I’m a little afraid I’m going to pass out in the frozen pea aisle at the grocery store. It’s the kind that means I can’t really do a good job at work. Or be very kind, at home.

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This kind of thin — it means I feel a little less, all day long. If that makes any sense. If we could put hunger aside — which, of course, we can’t — I would say I feel almost nothing. I feel less inadequate, less incompetent, less afraid, less lost, less panicked, less left behind — and I like feeling less, of those things.

But I don’t like feeling less wonder, or less joy.

(Artichokes have flowers! Did you know.)

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(Oregon is a postcard place. You already knew this, but look!)

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(There’s an apple that grows around here, and it’s pink on the inside! Ignore the wonky cut.)

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(Fall is happening! It’s windy and gold and we should practice our strategic steps.)

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Those are things I like. Particularly after having gone for a little swim in a fancy French onion soup.

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I don’t like feeling like someone took me home and marked me up. Like they red-slashed all of my exclamation points, while they were waiting for the bus.

And I don’t like looking thirteen. Not really. Ideally, I’d like to look twenty-three and happy. I’d like to be happy.

I’d also like to be less attached to the Internet. And I’d like to be less freaked out about Making It. And I’d like to make my own Cherry Almond Coconut Crumble pie.

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And I’d like to say good enough, and really believe it. And I’d like to fill out my jeans, feel pretty. I’d like to make a new friend, go for a walk. (A run, again. I’d like to run, and I’d like to run fast.)

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I’d like to sing in the shower; I’d like to take a long bath. I’d like to relax; I’d like to let go. Let go of this idea of normal. This normal-that-is-not-normal. (Portland seems like a good place to do that.)

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And I’d like to be more accepting. More forgiving. I’d like to look at myself in the mirror and think: you brave, brave thing. You are the bravest! It is brave to be honest. It is brave to try to be happy. You are a tiny awesome warrior for trying, for trying this hard.

I’d like to look at myself and think: So you haven’t quite got it down. So you’re struggling. So you need some help. So it’s going to take longer than you thought. So you have a warped body image. So you have low self-esteem. So you’re easily influenced. So you’re kind of a drag, sometimes. So what?

So you feel like you can’t see into the middle of next week. So you left another job. So you’re an over sharer. So your health felt more important. So you long to feel, to trust the feeling. So you don’t, yet. So that was too much pie, too much cake. So what?

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So that would have been more fun holding hands. So that was a regrettable text. So you’re learning the hard way. So what? So that was a poor choice; so that was a long shot. So you should have worn shorts; so those were not Dryer Pants. So you don’t know where to go, what to do, who to talk to. So what? What now? You live. You try again. That’s what.

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