Funny story from tonight. I was running around haphazardly this evening, trying to rush back home because the Pugger was sick (I ended up coming home to a pile of warm poo stacked in front of his bed anyway). Running around the local Stop & Shop, I was walking toward the self checkout aisles because I am me and most times I’ve got a little fear of interacting with people. I mean, it’s not horrible and I’m pretty good at being friendly but, given the choice, I’ll more than likely prefer to just be alone. Well, maybe prefer is the wrong word. Maybe accustomed is a better word. I think if I was more confident in who I was I’d love to be around people more.
Anyway, not the story. I hear “Ma’am, I can take you at aisle two” from the only open checkout aisle. There was a man still paying for his groceries and I thought he must have been mistaken. But no, he motioned me over. Over the course of the next five minutes checking out, Eddie (he introduced himself) made compliment after compliment to me. He liked my hair, it was hard to miss me looking the way I do. “I’m thirty-two,” he said and I told him I’m a bit older. He said, “That’s alright with me.” He told me he lived right up the road, told me to come back soon as I was leaving the store. He would not stop smiling at me. He stuttered a bit here and there; more from nerves and excitement and not actually from a speech disorder.
And the entire time I’m thinking to myself, Wait, what? You find me attractive? It was flattering and weird and something I still find odd. It’s not that I think I’m ugly; I know I’m not. I probably fit into some definition of contemporary good looks: I’m tall, fairly skinny (I still need to lose weight, don’t get me wrong), have wickedly defined cheek bones. I don’t think I’m unpleasant to look at. But it’s weird for me to accept being attractive. I’m not what you would consider beautiful or even Instagram pretty—you know the type of woman I speak of: on the shore, hands on their head, sunset between their legs, white sun hat. These pictures are ubiquitous. No, I’m a bit different. I once had someone ask me how stupid of a man could divorce an Amazonian woman like me (the man’s face after hearing it was a woman I got divorced from was priceless). But Amazonian is probably a better descriptor than cute and petite.
These episodes happen so infrequently that they take me by complete surprise. Most days I look in the mirror, throw on some foundation, and try not to stare too long so as not to break the glass. We always see our own faults more than anyone else. I try to remind myself of this when I scrutinize the wrinkles, the scars, the zit on my nose (you would think at almost forty I’d have finally had the last of them!), the black bags under my eyes, the fine thin, static hair that is such a pain in the ass to do anything with. I try to step back, look at the full-length mirror, and take it all in rather than reducing who I am to an ear, an eye, an ass, a pair of breasts. We’re objectified enough. I should be the one to enjoy and revel all of me; no need to be part of the masses.
Because, it’s all going to fade. I’m not getting any prettier or younger. I know looks are important; they are usually the first pangs of desire, of wanting to get to know someone. Looks are what lead to the next step. And what one person finds attractive another may find repulsive. It’s really just a crap shoot, isn’t it?
A side note, if I may. If I’m being honest, the moment I saw my ex, standing in the yard with a pack of dogs at the dog day care we worked at, I instantly felt weak. I mean, my breath was taken away. She says she felt the same way when she saw me walking down the corridor toward where she was. It was a perfect moment (had I known things would have ended the way the did, would I have pursued things? I truly don’t know).
I’m not sure what I meant to accomplish with this post. Maybe I still have a lot to unpack with how I feel about myself, about owning my attractiveness, of sitting with it and honoring it..of honoring every aspect of myself. Of learning to love all the bits I have yet to make friends with. Is it possible to love something you’d still like to change?