Sunday, July 22, 2012

Portland, Hippies, Firefighters and Lots of Nudity

So I had these beautiful, blissful few months where I thought I had mastered my metabolism. And as someone who has struggled to remain in a normal weight range since before puberty, the feeling was better than all the riches in the world. I thought maybe I was one of those rare freaks of nature whose metabolisms shoot up, rather than plummet, when they turn 30. In reality, I owed my brief ability to eat like a sumo wrestler to the hot yoga room I was spending 4.5 hours a week in.  I was also walking absurd lengths to reach all the delicious things I was eating. So while I thought I had beaten the game, in reality, I was just playing it right.

Then I got the flu, moved by myself, had to be a single dog mom for awhile while Mr. W was on the road, and lost my motivation to move. The weight flew back on in unsightly bulges and robbed me of the one thing I’d managed to master through my body struggles: my confidence. And by God, after everything I put my poor self-esteem through, I felt I deserved it. I just had to find a minute to get off my ass.

And then my confidence was shocked back into me, against my will, in a matter of 48 hours. And I owe it all to Portland.

I had a rigid plan for the day of my departure to Portland to visit my sister wife and G:  wake up early, finish packing, get to work at 9 instead of 10, work at the speed of light, come collect the dog, and be on the road by 6 PM.  But I was so excited to see my girls, I took too much Melatonin on Thursday night and I slept until 9, thus single-handedly destroying my entire plan. I saw my phone, immediately texted my boss that I was running late, and started the mad dash to get ready.

As I ran around, fire alarms from various parts of the building went off left and right, scaring poor neurotic Dexter. I knew the fire department would be around that day testing the alarms and would be entering my apartment later, so I made a new plan: pack at lightning speed, take Dexter to the doggie daycare a mile from work, collect him and head straight for the freeway.

“Pack at lightning speed” means multi-task. So, after my shower, I stood at my laptop wearing nothing but jeans, clicking away on my laptop looking up directions to G’s new place as I rubbed my Jergens Natural Glow all over my upper body in an attempt to fake a tan.

And it was that precise moment in time that two firefighters burst into my apartment after a brief half-assed “knock” on the door. I was literally standing in front of them topless rubbing lotion on myself. It was too much for my brain to bear. I froze, losing the ability to speak or move. They apologized repeatedly and slammed the door.

“Just a minute,” I whimpered weakly.

As I was leaving for work minutes later (fully dressed), I took the elevator down with Dexter’s leash and my suitcase handle in one hand and a smelly bag of garbage in the other. The elevator stopped on the 4th floor. In marched the two firefighters who’d seen the goods, along with two more. The two who hadn’t seen me took one look at me and grinned at the other two. It was clear that, not only had word spread of the incident, they knew I was the flasher. I tried to blend into the wall, but my smelly garbage gave me away…as did my dog who chose that time to sniff one of the men’s crotch.

Luckily, Portland has the ability to erase a lot of stress from my soul because of the two wonderful women I visit there. And the next afternoon, G and I were laughing at my misfortune over happy hour in the sun. She then informed me that she had a surprise for me before ordering me a second round. I’d already had a glass of wine while she foiled my hair earlier, so I was feeling mighty fine. My accidental flash was a world away.

 G wouldn’t tell me what the surprise was, but she’d told me to pack a swimsuit. We pulled up in front of an old brick building. opened the door and were flooded with the smell of incense. A middle aged hippie guy greeted us warmly, and G checked us in.

“We have appointments for massages,” she said. I barely had time to tell her she shouldn’t have before we were on our way back to check the place out.

“It’s a spa, but they have this amazing outdoor soaking tub,” she said. “It sounded so great, I couldn’t resist.”

“You’re an angel,” I said, reaching for the swimsuit in my bag. Then the middle-aged hippie barged into the dressing room, which surprised us, because of the obvious gender differences. He asked if he could give us a tour of the place. Confused, we agreed.

He led us out to the soaking tub, and it was then we realized this “spa” was actually a nudist establishment. Several middle aged men lay sprawled out in lounge chairs, letting it all hang out and soaking up the sun. A single old lady relaxed in the giant hot tub, naked as the day she was born.

I looked at G. Her eyes were huge. Middle Aged Hippie left us to change… into nothing.

“I’m so sorry,” G whispered. “It said the pool was clothing optional, but I didn’t think there would be dudes out there.”

We realized that if we put our swimsuits on, we’d look like jackasses. I didn’t know what to do. Here I was, the least confident I’d ever been about my body, expected to parade it around in front of strangers. We hashed it out and decided, at last, to go topless.

I covered up with a towel until the last possible moment. I set it down in a chair, sucked in my stomach, and walked across the patio to the soaking tub, avoiding eye contact with everyone. G and I relaxed and chatted for a few minutes, then lifted ourselves out of the tub to cool off. I leaned back, trying to make myself look skinnier. Then I looked around and realized that nobody gave a shit. No one was even looking at me, much less making horrified faces. I stopped giving a shit, too, and just enjoyed the feeling of the sun on my bare skin in places it had never seen. It was freeing, awesome, and yes… straight out of Portlandia.

My massage therapist was an even older hippie, and he was wonderful. He didn’t even say a word when the three glasses of wine caught up to me and I dozed off and drooled on his foot. And afterward, I felt amazing in more ways than one. There’s nothing quite like two instances of unexpected nudity to force you to get over your body hang-ups. I’m far from perfect, but damn it, nobody threw up. In fact, those firefighters looked pretty pleased, after they got over their shock.

I’m now moderating my junk food and back in the hot yoga room. If this is what gets thrown at me when I let ten pounds creep on and let my confidence suffer, I'm not about to tempt fate by really letting myself go.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Seven years, zero dull moments

It’s late in the evening of my 7th wedding anniversary. I’m sitting alone at my dining room table eating pasta and salad and half-listening to something on The Discovery Channel. It was supposed to be a beautiful, sunny 73 degree day. We were supposed to sip a bottle of champagne on our rooftop while watching the sun set and grilling our dinner.

Instead, my husband of the better part of a decade (WOW) is asleep on the couch suffering from an awful case of tonsillitis. I’m fighting it off myself. I feel fatigued and achy. But so far my body is winning its battle and I am in far better shape than he is.

I should be depressed. Maybe disappointed. After all, this day is pretty legendary. One year ago I was sitting inside the Can Can with my love and two of our best friends in the world on an incredible night out. Two years ago I was sipping overpriced champagne in Las Vegas, leaving a glitter trail down the strip with my husband that I’d just married again in a vow renewal ceremony. And seven years ago I was at my wedding reception, feeling overwhelmed at the feeling of having almost everyone I loved in the same room.

But I’m not depressed or disappointed. All I am is happy. Because my husband might be sick as a dog today and incapable of taking me on a fancy date or even taking the dog outside, but he’s here. He’s with me, and we’re together. And over the last six months, I’ve realized exactly how special that really is. He’s here, we still enjoy being married to each other and we still genuinely love each other. I know that’s rare. I’m not taking it for granted.

Our relationship is so wonderfully weird and so suited to us both. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damned awesome because we want it to be and we put the effort in to make it that way. And no matter what it holds, I am so much better for having known him. I know how special that is, too.

I know him pretty well by now. I know that in a couple of days when the antibiotics do their thing and he’s back to being himself, he’s actually going to apologize for this. He’ll think that somehow he let me down, because that’s the kind of man he is. Every time he struggles in life or things are less than perfect, he feels like he’s disappointing me. He loves me so much that he wants to be a better man… for me.

I hope I can spend the next seven years or so showing him that the opposite is true. All I see is how far he’s come and how much he does to try and make me happy. I have the best friends I could ever ask for and an incredibly wonderful family, but no one has ever shown me the level of kindness that he has. And for that, I can never be disappointed in him. But I can give him my heart and my love, always.

But in the meantime, I am going to sit here alone as he sleeps and I am going to eat a shit ton of cookies. Because if there was ever an excuse to go on a sugar bender, this is it— and I am not taking that for granted either.

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