Pretty Protests

We are drawn to beautiful things. We pause before them, sway towards them — these irresistibly and undeniably attractive things. We stare at them. Freeze them, frame them.

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But what we’re left with, then, is a cropped version of beautiful. Because beautiful is not just the man idling at the red light, with the gold flecks on his forearm. It is not just the woman striding across the street, with licks of auburn in her hair.

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It is the riot of colors swirling in the air around them, too. The reds and yellows and oranges and greens — it is all of it. Lifting and landing, landing and lifting.

And if I close my eyes, it is all of that and more. It is every night when the sky pulls the covers up over day. And every morning, when the hills are hidden and the rivers are reduced to especially thick threads of mist.

The Pacific Northwest is so beautiful. I wish you could see.

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Away from the city, it is all lingering fog and whispering pines. Rain on trees, and waves on stone.

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It is a good place to hike. This is going to sound lame, maybe, but it is an equally good place to heal. If the secret to healing is to let yourself hurt, I think I’m doing a pretty bang-up job.

There is an art to everything — I also think that. From how you sign your name to how you pour your tea. How you compliment a stranger to how you speak to yourself. How you plate a meal to how you sprinkle the salt. 

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But I don’t know, I’m really not sure, if there’s any art in this. I told myself I’d find the poetry in it all — I told myself that was where my beauty would be. I could do this gracefully. I would, do this gracefully. How hard could it be, to be kind to myself?

Very hard, as it turns out.

The reasons I developed an eating disorder in the first place — they’re all still here, clamoring for attention. Only now that I’ve let all of my coping mechanisms fall by the wayside, they are more present. More insistent. I feel it all, now that I am full.

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What I feel mostly, though, are these seemingly endless stretches of self-doubt. If I am not vigilant — if I let my eyes stray for a second, from the prescribed path — I don’t see beauty. I see failure, forty times over. And more halfhearted swings and major misses, up ahead.

But there is a part of me that wants to put up a protest. Is, putting up a protest.

There are a lot of people who aren’t exactly sure what to do, which direction to try next. There are plenty of little-bit-lost people, on the planet. And they don’t all have slam-dunk careers and/or winning relationships yet, either. They’re slipping and tripping and flat-out falling, just as much I am. But they aren’t beating themselves over the head with it.

I can type that, I can read it, I can hear it — but I can’t suppress the icy cold panic that surges up and cascades down. Yeah, but it’s too late, for you. You’re too late. 

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I am twenty-three years old. It is clearly not too late.

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There is still time to be who I want to be. To be someone you’d want to write a book about. Take the first four chapters to describe how you knew this particular woman knew that life was actually a party. Take the next three to explain the ways in which she made it her job, to make sure everybody felt invited.

I don’t want to go through life wearing oversized sweaters, fooling myself into believing huggable fabrics make a perfectly good substitute for a pair of arms, wrapped securely around me. I don’t want to go through life insulated from all the potential pain. That’s not what I want.

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I want breakfast twice, if once wasn’t enough. I want a thumb to circle mine. I want a way to touch people — people that need to be touched. (We all need to be touched, I think. I miss it — so much.) I want to know what it’d be like to extend myself — more, more, more — until I’m up on tiptoe, teetering. I want to know what it’d be like to curl up at home, after, and have him rub my arches, kiss my brow. I want to jump in, without beginning to look for a reason to bail, two months in. I want to be able to bounce back, when it’s necessary — when I need to. I want to brush sleepy kisses against a puppy’s soft fur, listen to the pitter-patter of little feet. I want to feed people I love. Feed myself, the very same way. I want to see the beauty. I will, see the beauty.

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