It’s been five years since we moved to Marshfield.
Those five years have flown by in the blink of an eye.
It’s also been five years since I left DC.
But when my plane touched down here tonight, it all felt like a lifetime ago.
Same five years. How can it feel so different?
You guys should have seen me tonight. Fumbling to purchase a SmarTrip card, trying to figure out which side of the Metro platform to stand on, acting like a total tourist as we transferred from the yellow to the blue line. Oh! oh! and I almost forgot about the time I knocked my suitcase down the up escalator as we exited at Federal Center SW. Nothing but suave. Yes. Suave.
My public transit skills have evaporated, my mental maps have faded, and my sense of where I am in the city is basically gone, gone, gone. I’m no longer the young, metropolitan woman I’d spent six years becoming. Five shorts years — and I’ve completely unbecome.
And also rebecome. A pretty poignant reminder of what time can do.
It’s so interesting to be back here. So exciting. Somehow scary all over again.
And in a few short hours, it’s exhausted me. So. Netflix in the hotel room until this midwestern local yokel ventures back out into the big city for a few days.
It’s a self-deprecating Queen reference… get me? Although, how self-deprecating can a fat bottom be if Queen rocked out about it once upon a time. Not very, am I right?
A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to catch up with a good friend from the old hood — we chatted for a good long while and lots and lots of memories came flooding back. I probably hadn’t talked to Dante in more than 5 years… maybe even 7 or 8… since whenever the last time we ran into each other at our parents’ houses on Raintree Drive…
After our conversation, I was reminded of his long ago (possibly still, but at least he didn’t use it) description of me… as an endangered moose.
Have you ever seen a moose in person? It’s a total insult. They’re enormous and goofy looking all weird legs and big body and crazy antlers. Insults were kind of what we did though, so the grain of truth in it, meh… part of growing up nextdoor to a boy the same age, I suppose.
It made me laugh to think about it again last week and it’s been on my mind.
I actually nearly ran into a moose in Michigamee one time– the town motto is “Michigamee, where the moose run loose” so it’s not terribly surprising that that’s where it would have happened. I came around a bend on US41 in my bitty little Geo Tracker and bam, there it was. Standing in the road, looking at me. We sat there like that for a while — me, a moose, looking straight ahead at the real deal.
I’m a big person — big in pretty much every way a woman “shouldn’t” be big. My body, height and width, my hair, my head, my hands and feet. Heck, even my jaw is big. I’m a big person.
These days I’m feeling a lot more ok with that. I mean, I am what I am. I can exercise and eat well and use hair products to minimize some of it, but when it comes to bone structure and genetic propensity for size, there’s not a ton I can do.
Actually, let me rephrase that, not a ton that I’m willing to do… I did spend several months thin as could be, but a little scene from Drop Dead Gorgeous comes to mind when I think about it:
“With one week to go before the pageant, I was finishing my outfit, rehearsing my talent, brushing up on current events, and running 18 miles a day on about 400 calories. I was ready.”
Yeah, I got sucked up in the wedding crazies… very little food, lots and lots of gym time, just not a life I’m willing to live.
So bigness it is.
What really surprised me recently though was how much it matters to me, even at the age of 31, that I see people that look like me, big me, being awesome.
On Tuesday night, Seth and I went with some friends to see Spy, the new Melissa McCarthy movie. It… was… hillarious. I laughed hard for two hours straight. I just loved it.
No, it’s not Oscar-worthy cinema, but it’s flipping funny and Melissa McCarthy and her amazing bestie-from-the-basement Miranda Hart were amazing.
So were Rose Byrne and Jason Statham and Jude Law and Allison Janney and the rest of the cast. But man, Melissa and Miranda. They rocked my world?
Because they were hilarious, mostly. But also, and the thing I’m trying to talk about now, is because they were completely and totally imperfect. Large and in charge, they looked like me and they were awesome.
We all have personally defining characteristics. I can’t know how other people see me, but I know that when I think about how others see me and the way I see myself, I think big — body, hair, feet, hands, brain, jaw. All of it. Big.
So for me, to see someone else who is big being awesome? It thrills me.
And it was mostly just fun until I checked Facebook mid-post-writing last night and saw Daily Kos’s breaking coverage of the absolutely horrifying AME church shooting in Charleston, SC, and I realized that it doesn’t just matter to me that I see big people being awesome — you need to see it too. And we both need to see a lot more diverse people being awesome all the dang time. Because then maybe fat people, black people, transgender people, disfigured people, people of all different shapes and sizes and colors and orientations won’t be scary, they’ll just be people. People with the capacity to be awesome. Or funny or sexy or interesting or whatever. People that deserve to be.
I realize that it’s not really fair to compare weight bias and the expectations that society has about women’s bodies to the disgusting, pervasive, systemic racism that still exists in our country… but you get my point, don’t you?
And it was really hammered home to me when another neighbor from long ago, who lived behind both Dante and me, Heather, posted this BuzzFeed link on Facebook:
People, beautiful, awesome, amazing, real people… just like you and me. People we need to see. Not just now that they’re gone, but all the time. It’s not the answer, but it’s part of it, don’t you think. I mean, think back to the whole ridiculous notion of separate-but-equal when little black girls wants to play with little white dollies because that’s what they saw as the norm, as they good, as the worthy. I hate that. It makes my stomach turn. But it still happens on our tvs and our movie screens and our magazine pages. We can talk about and celebrate Viola Davis and Mindy Kaling and Melissa McCarthy and Laverne Cox and Peter Dinklage, yes… but those are singular names, the exceptions rather than the rule.
It’s important to see ourselves, to understand that we have the potential to be awesome. It’s also important to see others, those who are different than us, to understand that they have the potential to be awesome. We all do. We need to see it. We can all make the rockin world go round