I took my body for a walk.
It was wearing a long white dress that clung up top and on the butt and then stretched for the ground, slinging itself over the occasional active knee.
Its breasts would not do real cleavage. Unless I hoisted the bra up. You have to catch them right. It’s this complicated thing. You have to sort of scoop them in and up. And then they slip out of position again, and it’s gone.
Its rounded arms were bared, because of the heat. Which is unusual. I thought, with slight dread, oh no, it’s only the beginning of the warm season. I will have to bare the arms so much more.
Its belly made a little puffy circle just below the belt, which was pretending that there was no belly, because belts pretend that.
Its legs might not have been long enough for real grace. But they were mostly hidden, anyway. The polish was chipping on its unruly toenails at the ends of its squarish feet.
I could feel that its neck looked awkward, so I tried to stand up straighter, but then I’d forget. I didn’t want the head and neck combination to look like a turtle. I thought there was a chance that it might be looking like a turtle already. That maybe it was impossible for it not to look like one, because of the construction of the head and neck areas. Something to do with the raised lump at the base of the neck, a protuberance of opinionated spine.
I walked my body past some men. I didn’t look to see if they were looking at it. I thought I could feel eyes, but it felt awkward to know. Almost as though I might be able to read their thoughts, and maybe they would be rating my body, and maybe it would only be scoring midrange.
I wondered if I shouldn’t have dressed my body in something so revealing. Maybe it wasn’t the right body for that. It didn’t have a lot of the things that other bodies that look sexy in revealing things have. It might look a little ridiculous.
I caught a glimpse of my body in the dark window of a laundromat. Its arms looked slimmer than they felt, hanging there, from the shoulders. Sometimes, though, they looked larger than they seemed, and then I would get confused. How big are they, anyway? How worried should I be? It’s hard to tell.
What a strange thing, to be attached to this body. With its jiggly parts and its imbalances and its oddities. Sometimes, as I move this body through the world, it feels like an assemblage of quirks and miscommunications—a stack of odds and ends; a series of rough-edged pieces that never got completed or perfected or even sanded down.
I’m not sure how I ended up with it. Why am I the caretaker of this random body? What am I supposed to do with it?
I have certain ideas about how it should look, and then it does something totally different. I have thoughts about how it should move, but it’s difficult to maneuver properly. It still can’t dance in a sexy way, for example. Even walking is sometimes not quite right. Also, I haven’t yet figured out what I should do with its hands when I’m at a party. I often clasp them in front of it, but that seems old-fashioned. Does anyone clasp their hands in front of them these days? Do you have to be a senator to do that, or at least a man in a suit? It’s unclear.
I took my body for a walk. It was wearing a long, white dress that I thought might look good on a body. I couldn’t tell if mine looked good enough in it.
Its hair wasn’t doing the thing that I was almost positive it should be doing. Instead, it was fluffy, like a fluffy helmet. If I could pick hair for the head of this body, I think I would pick rich, dark, chaotic hair. Thick, lush, almost-black hair that curls and spirals and rushes everywhere. So I’m not sure what to do with this thin, mousy hair that it came with. Another error, probably.
I guided my body down the stairs, into the subway station. A man yelled after us, “Why are you alone, honey? A girl like you shouldn’t be alone. Yeah you!”
And we both ignored him.
Which one did he mean?
But suddenly I thought that it did feel lonely, up there in my brain, far away from this body.
A girl like me shouldn’t be alone.
No girl should be alone, in her head, with her strange, difficult body somewhere beneath.
But then why is it so hard to remember that this body—this compilation of odds and ends body with its turtling spine and its inability to dance sexily and its breasts that don’t do traditional cleavage—is me. Not just a thing that I am arbitrarily in charge of. But who I am. Right now. In this moment. On the street. In the white dress. On the subway. And I am always changing. I am somewhat awkward. I am confusing and complex and beautiful in a white dress. I can bare my arms. I can feel uncomfortable. But sometimes I can feel completely at ease.
I went for a walk. It was warm and sweet-smelling, and the leaves were full of the anticipation of summer. The sun felt startling and good on my skin. My toes were happy to be free. Everyone who saw me thought I looked lovely. Or maybe they didn’t. But I did, anyway. Not the most graceful, but totally original. A little random, maybe, but also, somehow, right.
(actually, it looks like I have a little cleavage in these pictures. It’s an illusion.)
* * *
Do you ever feel separate from your body? How do you come together again? Some people said physical movement/exercise, when we had a similar conversation here.
Unroast: Today I love the way my feet feel in sandals.
A reader cake pic for the gallery! Yay! Send me yours!