Seventh grade, 1990-ish, I gather my things from my locker after the bell rings and follow the masses towards the front doors. I step my way onto the bus and plop down in the same seat, two back from the front row on the right side. No sooner than I release my backpack from my shoulders do I hear from the back of the bus, “Hey, you can’t even see your feet, your belly’s so big.” Laughter. “Can you do this?” With his left hand, he grasps his right wrist and touches his middle finger and thumb together. Either my fingers were too short or my wrist was too big. Either way, I guess this was how they decided people should gauge their body weight. Of course, I couldn’t do it. “And how come you don’t have knuckles?” Laughter. I hadn’t noticed it before, that my knuckles hadn’t protruded like on other people’s hands. But up until that point, I wasn’t aware that was a measure of body weight either, according to them. I can remember the warm afternoon sun, the tattered edge of the same green pleather seat I occupied every day to and from school, and those two classmates of mine who felt it necessary to point out what they thought were physical shortcomings on my part. I can remember it like it was yesterday.
I never knew how carrying this image around for so long could have such an impact on the way I felt about myself. It was as if it was the building block of negativity for years to come, as if those two boys were experts on how to gauge healthy body weights based on your hand and finger structure, and felt it was their job to inform others. I know everything they said was silly nonsense, but it wasn’t until recently, VERY recently, that I realized I had been it carrying around for 28 years, and that’s a whole bunch of extra mental baggage I need to unload, like right now.
So, here it is. It can stay here. I don’t need it anymore. It’s taking up space that should be filled with positive, helpful, loving thoughts of myself. I’m choosing not to lug it around anymore and it feels GREAT.