It is not surprising that the next round of realization came after reading a book. Maybe it should also not be surprising that it didn't go smoothly.
I have had many disappointments this year in terms of things that I wanted to do and hoped to do and just couldn't. One hard hitting one relates to this book. I saw that Roxane Gay was coming to Powells to promote her book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Money was tight, but I was going to splurge on a copy of the book so I could have her sign it after hearing her speak.
I was really looking forward to it. Not only am I a big fan of Gay, but I felt like the book would be important for me. That was the book that was going to enable me to finish blogging about the last two books on the Long Reading List and one of the last Problems.
Then I couldn't get in the room.
I am not her only big fan. I left as soon as I could, but I did have to wait for someone else to be home with my mother before I could leave. By the time I got there the room had already filled up and started a long line snaking down the stairs and around the next floor. If I stayed in line I would still be able to get a book signed, but I wasn't going to hear her speak, and I was going to be waiting a long time.
The disappointment was pretty crushing. I don't even allow myself to hope for too much in terms of recreation any more. My sisters are reasonably good about sometimes taking my mother somewhere so I have the house to myself, and that's good, but going out and doing something fun is much more complicated. It takes something to do, and a way of getting there, and usually money. I have still hoped for three things this summer, and none of them worked. This was actually only the first letdown, but I still felt it.
I just wanted out of there, so I did not buy the book. Still, losing out on the recreation part was bad, but it wasn't a reason not to read the book, which I had still expected to be helpful. I requested it through the library.
Roxane Gay is popular there too. I missed her on June 30th and requested the book then; it just came in a few days ago. It was after reading Hunger that I realized I am okay with my body.
The book was helpful by itself. There are parts of her story I recognize as my own, with others that are very different. Her writing style referenced the contradictions beautifully, where you might understand something on one level but not really know, or want something and not want it at the same time. I relate to that.
I know the biggest objections my readers could have will be my health, though I think I have been clear that I am not abandoning that. She helped here too. She does mention health issues, but when I was reading about her exercise efforts I had a flashback to back when I was working at Amber Glen. There was a conveniently located gym there. It changed names three times, but I still went consistently.
The number on the scale never moved, but I remember feeling strong. Perhaps it was delusional, but I felt like I was glowing with power after a workout.
If I chain my perception of my health to my weight, it is too easy to devalue everything that is good for me. Things that make me feel more energetic, or happy, or that result in good blood pressure and cholesterol readings will always be insufficient if success has to feature weight loss. I will not do that to myself.
Possibly what got me most were her ruminations on the life that might have been, because I have seen that life. My current life was never part of any plan, I assure you. I can still see many good things about this current life now. It's not that the other life might not have been good too, but I only really know this one, and I accept it.
That probably helped, but also the delay might have helped. I said earlier that it takes time to emotionally assimilate what you have figured out intellectually. June 30th might have been too soon to realize that yes, I am at peace with my body. By early September I was ready.
Missing her speaking still stings a little, but it's comforting that things still work out. I am still on my path.