Mostly in the following I work out some shit about my body and return to the theme of fucking loving los angeles
I have a new body, as you have heard. It’s been entirely replaced. Re-fitted. Re-sized? I don’t know. I think I’m in nearly or the same size in jeans as when I left in ’04. This a big difference (maybe as much as 50lbs, but I have no scale.)
When I expressed worry I was dropping weight too quickly, one of my doctors said that as long as I wasn’t disordered about the whole thing, not to worry. (He inquired to my eating style, my exercise, etc. and was inclined to think my head was on properly.) “Your body will do what it needs to do. You might plateau at some point. Maintain the healthy things you do now even when reaching that level. You’ll lose weight until your body wants to stop.” (or, mostly that. ish.)
On a somewhat theoretical note here: I don’t differentiate me/body. I’m all together. I think philosophically this lines up with Merleau-Ponty but I can’t be sure of that.
Before L.A., I was ungainly and awkward and I did a very fine job of hating myself. Before, I did not smile the way I do here, which is to say – at the slightest things. (More on this in a subsequent post). Now, it’s grins a million; I’m confident, I can shrug shit off. (Ok not totally everything, but that’s mostly to maintain my humanity. Really!) Before, that part was cut off from the rest of me, held captive by a misanthropic egomaniac. (With the full force of those words. Really.)
I had been conditioned to repeat to myself that I was a liar and a fake. The only truth was from his perpsective; and that everyone I knew as my friends were really calling and emailing him to tell him what I fool and embarrassment I was, how I made up stories and told lies. “You write fiction, it’s only normal, but you fictionalize everything, and everyone knows you’re not trustworthy. You just remember things wrong. You have to trust that I’m doing what’s best.” (Of course without doing this last thing, I was intentionally subverting his dominance and fooling myself that I was in any way submissive.)
I’m no longer beset by jealousy: I’m happy for others’ happinesses. Things are good. Things will continue to be good. Which isn’t to say I’m blitzed being pollyanna-ish. I’m not. I see the dark corners too, I get tired, I don’t like some things, I am not unrealistic. But here on my own? I’m ok. I’m not perpetually looking over my shoulder, wondering what’s coming to hurt me. And, fuck, this is L.A., where it’s supposed to be scary and shit. It’s not like that. I don’t flinch walking past police cars. I don’t dread the phone ringing. People who talk to me in the market, or at bus stops or in cafes say really nice things.
Somebody once told me (maybe more than one somebody?) that I had gained weight when I did, the way I did as a defense mechanism, a manner of protecting myself from those times when things weren’t secure. When there wasn’t much money. When there was no certainty. I have no idea, for real. Part of me kind of buys into that. Part of me thinks I sat around a lot and was depressed often and very sick for a long time. But now I don’t know. My way of life in LA (until ’04) involved a lot of walking, even when I had some wheels. Now it’s imperative and I hoof it at least 5 miles a day.
Let me say this: I love women of size. My fuckmates and playmates in Austin are/were beautiful women who sized in the 20s (or did). I love/d their bodies. I couldn’t figure out why I hated my own, when it was similar to their lovelies. Why were theirs ok and mine wasn’t? I tried to care about and for my shape with some academic precision. The logic of it should have threaded through to my own heft. Why was my size 20 or 22 or so so fucking dreadful. I tried to lose weight. I went running, I counted calories. It didn’t work. Nothing budged. I was told I was obsessing and thereby diminishing my focus on him. He told me I was self-absorbed. He told me I was insecure and was therefore unlovely. “If you would just accept and love yourself the way [the other woman] does, I’d find you attractive.”
I don’t know how to answer any of that. I don’t know if it matters. Some would say it does, that solving those riddles is verily imperative or something. But I can’t figure out the reason it would be. It seems, to me, that it’s enough that I know the ground beneath me now. It seems to me that it would be enough to know who I am where I am and what I’m doing. Or even not the last thing.
Finally, the being v. doing falls into place, but it is not as a factor of being in chains. Freely, I chose to be myself. And I stake my life on it, staying in Los Angeles on 12 January instead of going back to Texas. And as a matter of course, I walk miles a day. I no longer eat any starch. (I was bidden to eat potatoes and fries and bread and noodles in order to maintain stability. That without those carbs, I would for surely be depressed.) Often, I drink a bottle of wine at night, after work. Oh! And? I tell people about how my day was at work without fearing it will make them think I’m ugly or unsexy. And my body is entirely different.
It bears repeating, for posterity, that I have lost a lot of weight. Upon my arrival, I know (nearabouts) what I weighed. I wore an 18 or a 20 — if I was lucky I could manage 16s. (Like used and thriftstore 16s sometimes could get worked-into.) The belt I had brought in my luggage broke before the middle of February. I had over-used it. And by that time, I was on the smallest notch. By the end of January, the jeans that came with me on vacation didn’t fit mostly at all. I kept wearing them. And then the belt broke. So I got a pair at a thrift store on Fairfax for $3. That day, it was a huge sum to lay out on something that wasn’t food. But they fit. For two weeks. And I realized I ought to get another belt.
Today I’m on my way out of 12s. If I get to shop tomorrow, I will try on the 12s 10s. I won’t understand this. I saw my reflection today. It’s not the same as from before. I think I don’t hate it but not to do with the size. To do with who I am.
I don’t think the rest of me is altogether different. But I’ve uncovered my being. I am friends with joy. I say good morning to people as I walk past, the bus drivers on my commute know me now. Even the crossing guards at Union Station (where I transfer from bus to train on the way to work and train to bus on way home) know me already. “Have a good weekend!” said he who holds up traffic in the morning. (I say thank you to them every time I cross, too.) On Hill St in the morning and Spring St in the evening, I look up at these old and giant and beautiful buildings and I smile. All of it is glorious.
I whisper my gratitude to this City day after day.
In this city, my very –ness is untrammelled.