Anyhoo…let’s get on to Part 2. Thanks for all your positive comments about the first story. I really appreciate your feedback. For those of you new to my blog, an explanation:
I’ve done a lot of writing the last six months and after restructuring and rethinking the angle of my book, there are several stories that will end up on the cutting room floor. Before they do, I thought I’d share some of them here.
The book is largely about how I lived life at all my various weights. Some of the stories I’ll share here will be condensed or referred to in the book, so this is my chance to expand on the details a little more.
In the first installment, I left you with the surprise goodnight kiss. Here’s what happened next:
Eighteen months later, on a hot, humid June night, Larry surprised me again.
I was pounding out a features story on my computer in the air-conditioned upstairs of our house when he knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. He said he needed to talk. I knew that line. It always meant there was a financial issue we had to work out. He probably wanted to talk about the car.
My 1987 Chevy Cavalier needed a new transmission and I’d been reluctant to fix it because I could barely pay for food, insurance, the kids’ school lunches, clothes and my wardrobe (now in a larger size) on a journalist’s salary, which in Clarion meant $14,000 a year for 50-plus hours a week of writing, driving and pulling out my hair.
I wrote in the newsroom and at home. I drove everywhere in the county and took countless photos of school art projects and music festivals. I interviewed people with profound stories to tell and people who grew freakishly large pumpkins and zucchinis. At the end of the day, I had just enough energy to write one last story but not enough to talk about money. It made my stomach upset, and it was already in a funk because I’d eaten, as usual, too much of whatever I’d made for dinner, and the prescription strength Zantac hadn’t kicked in yet.
I’d stopped weighing myself at home and I never looked when I stepped on the scale every six months at the doctor’s office. I assumed I was at or past 200 pounds by how quickly 80 degrees made me sweat and the fact that I no longer tucked. All my shirts were worn outside my pants and skirts again. I was back in “If you hide it, it’s not there” mode, but not because I was sensitive about my body image. I was OK looking the way I looked because life was good. I had a permanent roof over my head; my girls were happy, thriving teenagers; and I was in love with a solid guy whose life was devoid of drama, although he worried about money a lot more than I did.
“Come on in,” I sighed. I saved the document, and sat down next to Larry on the futon.
“Remember last month when you came home from church on Mother’s Day,” he said, “and you asked me what our future looked like, if we were just playing house or if we were going to get serious?”
Hunh? Get serious about what? A car?
“Well, I did a lot of thinking about that,” he continued as he reached in his pocket and took out a small black box, “and I’d like to know, would you marry me?”
I’m a writer and a mother. I’m never without words. Then again, I’d never been proposed to. I’d been married three times but never asked. It was always assumed. Engagements were like business arrangements. One of us would say, “I suppose we should, you know, get married.” To which the other would reply, “Yes, I guess that’s the next logical move.”
I didn’t know what to say. My mind was prepared to talk about money. Instead, I was sitting on a futon and wearing a sweaty tank top and elastic-band shorts and being handed a little box with a sparkling pear-shaped diamond ring inside.
“Oh, Larry, it’s beautiful!” was what I managed to get out.
He took the ring out of the box and put it on my finger.
“It’s just beautiful,” I stammered again, staring at my finger. “I love it. It’s so pretty.”
I looked at Larry and he was beaming. I smiled back.
“I thought you wanted to talk about my stupid car again!” I said and smacked him on the thigh. Then I looked at my finger again. “Wow. It’s really pretty.”
Larry let me sit there for another minute with my jaw on the floor before he cleared his throat “Lynn?” he said. “You haven’t answered my question.”
“Hunh?” I looked at him for a second when finally my brain leaped back into my body. “Oh my gosh, I haven’t, have I? Yes, yes, of course I’ll marry you!”
I threw my arms around his neck and peeked again at the ring behind his back. Then we called my parents, told the girls and set a date. We would be married October 3.
By the end of September, we had the place, a preacher, the wine, the food, and an RSVP’d guest list of 54 friends and family members. The only thing missing was my dress.
While being married didn’t scare me, getting married did. In all the excitement, I forgot about the part where 54 people and Larry would be watching me and taking pictures. Even on my best calorie-reduced diet, I couldn’t lose 30 pounds in a week and no amount of industrial strength spandex could make 200 pounds look like 170. I paged through Lane Bryant and Roamans catalogs hoping to find something that would drape and hide while still signifying that I was the bride and not the matronly grandmother. Unfortunately, the models in these plus-size catalogs are so thin they wouldn’t really fit in the clothes they’re selling without alterations. I knew there was no way the cocktail dresses on the leggy brunette and the lanky blond would look the same on my 5’5”, 200-pound frame. I couldn’t take a chance on something I didn’t actually see on me first, so a few days before the wedding, I went shopping in a real mall. I hadn’t gone shopping since I busted out of size 14s because it wasn’t fun shopping for clothes that covered me up.
I shopped alone, and for two hours I tried on skirts, pants, dresses, and tops, squeezed into body shapers, and poured the “girls” into industrial strength bras, all under unforgiving fluorescent lights. Flushed and frustrated and cursing myself for ignoring this latest weight gain, I settled on a long black skirt with a small-link gold chain belt and matching black jacket in size 18. It fit a little big, but in my eyes it gave the illusion that I was smaller. I tried on lace-up boots with 3-inch heels, but they hurt my toes and would make me taller than Larry, and God knows I didn’t want to stick out any more than I knew I would. I bought black flats instead.
It rained and I didn’t like the way my stylist curled my hair, but on our wedding day, I was more happy than insecure. I reminded myself during the champagne toast that Larry met the 140-pound me, dated the 180-pound me and married the 200-pound me. A few times during the day, my size reminded me of the albatross it was, causing small pangs of self-consciousness any time someone said, “I want a picture!” Pangs that felt like I was being pricked with a needle along my spine. The script in my head told me that what I looked like that day would forever be a part of our family’s photo albums, so with every flash I cringed a little. But at least I was smiling, and for the most part I meant it.