I’ve been writing about some kind of heavy stuff lately; mental health is a big part of my life lately, but I don’t feel like writing about that today, so on a lighter note, me. The world can rest easy knowing that every day there is a little less of me to deal with. Having changed a lot of habits, I expected this. I did not, however, expect for the reduction to happen vertically too.
I bought a lot of clothes when I started teaching because I knew I’d need to convince my students that I was more than 4 years older than them–I figured that was just too close a gap for them to take me seriously–and I needed to convince them that I wasn’t homeless. So I bought a bunch of clothes with colors other than black and things on them other than band names. Some would argue that I looked respectable for a time.
One thing I remember with some certainty is that my clothes used to fit. They were my advertisement of my synthetic formality, and I distinctly remember that I did not look like a child trying on their parents’ clothes.
I do now
I knew my clothes didn’t fit when I heard them as I rode my bike. I do not often hear clothes, not even sure what exactly they’d sound like beyond the context of a really windy day. These one sounded like a plastic bag stuck in the back of a car while the windows are down, so much fluttering and noise, but it also wasn’t terribly surprising that I’d lost enough weight. It wasn’t surprising because I’d been working my ass off, so the heavy flapping of my pants was just an affirmation of the effort I’d put in already.
What I didn’t expect was that, when I taught, a student asked me if it was “the new style” to have your pant leg devouring your shoe. I said yes because I didn’t want anybody to realize that my teaching practice is informed as much by pedagogical theory as it is by what I can get for a dollar at Goodwill.
Yesterday, while bored and wandering around campus, I sought the help of a medical professional. I’d seen the signs that my body was thinning down, but the signs that I would one day struggle to get the cereal I want from the grocery store was somewhat distressing.
I was never that tall of a person. I was above average for women, but regardless of my towering height, I have never been what anyone would call intimidating. I’ve never quite managed to loom. My scowl, while practiced, is more demonstrative of being unhappy than it is of being frightening. And I drink a lot of tea, so even if I matched the criteria for a very specific phobia, I might be able to assuage their fears because most monsters do not smell faintly of earl grey and lavender.
I used to be 5 foot 8. I wasn’t exactly a colossus, a statuesque figure of regal proportions, but I think my cat was impressed. Yesterday, I learned I’d lost an inch somehow, and I’m pretty sure there’s no chance of finding it again.
This may seem like a strange, rather arbitrary thing to write a whole post about, but I’ll leave with two images that might further clarify why this is an important revelation in my life.
- Me in class standing in front of a pack of eager young people. I’m talking to them. They’re listening. For the first time, everyone is completely attentive. Everyone wants to hear about writing/ But wait. Why did that student’s eyes linger on my feet. What’s wrong? Then, as I walk about gesturing in ways that maybe captures some of the esoteric nature of writing, the swishing of my pants gets caught on a bar from one of the desks, I stumble and trip on the overlong pant legs that extend over my shoe. Falling, I feel at first the normal shame of a physical blunder, but then the cool air. There is a very real possibility that, if I do not buy new work pants, I’m going to pants myself while talking about commas.
- It’s October 28th. The sun is low in the sky and it’s that time of near-twilight in which the world captures some its whimsy again, some of its luck and mystery. I’m at the grocery store, but don’t let that distract from the strangely mystical tone that grips the world. I glide through the store, ethereal and riding the currents of pre-Halloween excitement, and then I find myself in the cereal aisle. And there it is, on the top shelf, the only reason I leave the house between September and November: Count Chocula, that silliest of overly sweet cereals with the single-toothed grin of its titular vampire on the front of the box, staring down at me. I reach for it, a cat screeches, dogs howl, a zombie groans. I reach a little harder. Somebody walks by the aisle and I pretend I wasn’t trying this hard to get at this children’s cereal with my short T-rex arms. Nobody is around, The Monster Mash is playing. I jump on my squat hobbit legs, but the cereal will remain out of reach. I collapse on the floor, dead from a broken heart.