Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Beast in the Fatungle

Dear Fat,

It surprises a lot of people that I've been alone for my entire life.  Maybe they think I've been abused.  Maybe they think I'm a closet lesbian.  Maybe they think I have unrealistic expectations for men that can never be reached.  If you really want to know . . . I've just never been asked.

In high school, I couldn't even get my loser guy friend to go to prom with me.  In college, it's not like I hermited myself into the corner of the library studying all day (you all know that I rarely studied, and if I did, it was never in the library).  I did my service groups, and I was out with a lot of different people almost all of the time.

I could blame the fat, but it's really the way you perceive yourself as a fat girl (even better to be a tall, fat girl who sometimes gets mistaken for a man).  The awkwardness and the insecurity show through, and it's difficult to figure out how to change.  I thought that if I could just try to be a good person, something would eventually happen.  Then the years passed.  I've been out of college for almost as long as I was in it, and I'm around far fewer people than I used to be.  I've found myself past that point where it's ok to have never dated anybody.

It may be hard to believe, but I've actually learned a lot from my solitude.  At the very minimum, I've learned that I will be okay on my own, and in some cases, it is preferable to be alone than in an emotionally abusive relationship.  But I do value experience.  Maybe it would've been better to have exercised the right to leave a bad relationship.

Yes, I had/have been somewhat unsatisfied.  I noticed it most when I was alone, but it's not loneliness that gets to me.  It's the lack of purpose.  I felt unneeded.  My presence in lab has so far been almost a complete waste of space, time, and money.  I don't yet have anything outside of lab--I used to have applications or classes or quals to occupy my time--but I'm working on it.  I also don't have the same support system I'm used to having or providing.

In the past couple of weeks, I've had two friends say things to me that made more of an impact than they may have realized.  One told me about a conversation she had with someone else.  They were discussing whether you would judge someone for being a virgin into their late 20s if it wasn't by choice.  At first, she wanted to say yes, but then she thought about me.  She ended up saying that she actually had a very good friend in that scenario, and she didn't think there was anything wrong with me at all.  That alone has been one of the most encouraging things I've heard in a long time.

On Christmas evening, I had drinks with a good friend who I unfortunately can see only a few times a year due to her despotic father.  I think I was harping over my insecurities and how much I've tried to change from my awkward high school self. She very simply interrupted me and said, "But . . . you haven't changed at all!"  That made me think quite a lot.  I realized that as much as I have kept in touch with a fair number of people over the years, and as much as I have seen them change, these changes have been superficial.  We know how to deal with our emotions better.  We know how to communicate better.  We have more realistic expectations for what life has to offer and for what we are capable of achieving.  But our essence is the same.  Justified or not, we are still a little judgmental.  We get jealous or insecure about the same things, but we've learned not to lash out.  We approach life with the same humor we always did though the references have changed.  We care about the way others perceive our personalities just as much, but most importantly, we value our relationships as much as we always have.

I guess I can't speak for real loneliness because I've always had friends around.  Old friends are nice because each of us paired together is like an old, married couple.  We can talk very seriously and very openly for hours on end, or we can not talk at all while we're doing our own thing.  We'll run errands, attend family events, go for hikes, and drink gallons' worth of coffee.  Spending time together has maybe gotten easier as we have gotten older.  So, here's to growing even older together.

Somewhere . . . I don't remember where . . . I recently read that your self-image takes a long time to recover even after you've lost a significant amount of weight.  I feel that now.  I still don't really like the way I look (hey you, don't worry, I'm not going to turn anorexic), but I feel myself getting to the point where I don't care.  In a good way.  These little physical things matter a lot less.  I can even flaunt these hideous scars on my leg (just not to my mother . . . please don't tell her--she'll flip her shit).

There is sort of a nice, poetic tragedy in perpetual loneliness, but I don't think I'm quite cut out for the life of a literary figure.  I just wanted to say that I am okay with being alone.  I'm working up to the rest of it.  I'm not trying to avoid anything, but I'm still getting over my personal issues.  But I know that I am getting over them.



Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Fattest Years of Our Lives

Dear Fat,

When I used to come home to TO from college, it would amaze me how nothing had changed.  The streets looked the same.  The people had the same bored look on their faces.  The air had the same damp earthy smell at night.

On Thanksgiving, I talked to a family friend, a girl I first met back in Minnesota when she was 2.  Her mother is probably my mother's best friend, and they had moved out here to Westlake about half a year before we moved as well.  More or less, I have seen her grow up--she's almost like another sibling to me.  Anyway, she just started her first year at Cal, and we were having a conversation (recently, we've been able to have actual conversations for a change) about what it feels like to come back home.  It's not so surprising that the city hasn't changed.  It seems stranger that our parents don't change.  We've learned so much in this time.  Why haven't they?  But that is the narrow-minded view.

For dinner on Christmas Eve, we went to the home of another of my mother's friends.  My mom has known two of the women there since they were little children back in China.  Their parents all worked at the same hospital, and back when communism was high, that meant that they also all lived within the same set of apartment complexes.  They played together; they biked to school; they studied.  Eventually, they all managed to immigrate here, what they considered the better life.  I can imagine, but I'll never really know, how much they had to learn to adapt to a world where they will always be considered foreigners.  And what was their driving force?  To live.  To live with financial security for themselves and their loved ones.  To live with independence and a bit of dignity.

Because of my parents' success, I have managed to meander my way through life without a very clear direction.  Now I look at my future with . . . indifference.   Not complete indifference.  I would like to help people most of all.  I would also like to have money.  Some part of me still believes that if you have the capacity, you should acquire as many skills as you can to be of most use to society.  I guess I just need to focus.

And lose more weight.