That I knew how to tap dance
That I understood the appeal of hiking
That I was a better writer
That the Carol Burnett Show was still on the air
That Liza still held my hand when we walk on the beach
That I liked yogurt
That I could take a walk with my father one more time
That the day after the Oscars was a nationally sanctioned day of rest
That there was a sports team, any sports team, I was remotely interested in.
That I was more effective at my job
That I trusted my ability to sing
That I didn’t hyperventilate when it was time for costume measurements
That I trusted my friends not to care about my costume measurements.
That money didn’t worry me so
That I could pick up Liza every day at 2:10 like other moms
That I liked to cook
That I was better at confronting people who have hurt me
That peak foliage would last two months and winter only one
That I had found the courage to come out to my mother
That I had something more creative to write about
That I didn’t worry what the other moms at Liza’s school think of me.
That I was kinder in word and deed
That I knew what the cat found so fascinating under the living room chair
That I took the time to go explore the woods behind my house
That I was more serious of purpose
That I had Kelly’s wit
That I didn’t fall so in love with the character I’m playing. The goodbye will hurt.
That I had realized how loud that cool new clock in the living room would be.
That I could call my sister and tell her I was sorry for being such a bratty kid.
That I had a sense of style
That I could spend a long morning over coffee with my college roomie.
That I wasn’t so chicken
That my oldest nephew would realize how much his family loves him
That I could motivate myself to exercise.
That I hadn’t hurt my ex husband so deeply
That I didn’t love reality tv so much
That my brother lived closer
That I cared about statistics and surveys and studies
That I had been a better mom to Liza in her early years.
That I had the guts to tell my friend to get the help she needs before she dies.
That typing that sentence didn’t make me cry.
That I could live with the mistakes of my past.
That Dani was here to tell me we all have pasts and we all live with them.
That Kelly could really know how madly passionately desperately I love her.
That I didn’t have to stop writing this and go to work.
That we could have a national discourse without screaming at each other.
That the fact that I want to marry Kelly would be a non issue to everyone.
That I wasn’t such a sap and didn’t cry every time Liza goes on stage
That for today I can make at least one person laugh out loud.
That I will find one friend I haven’t seen in a long time and tell them I love them.
What are your wishes?
A former trustee at an organization I worked at years ago once described me as having “a dagger of sarcasm a mile long.” Of course being a cranky Yankee I took that as a compliment. I often tell people that I don’t waste good sarcasm or really good zingers on people I don’t like — I save them for those I’m closest to. A former colleague and I shared native Maine roots and insulted each other on a daily basis with great glee. I remember chortling with laughter when he’d throw pocket change on my floor and say “here. add that to your annual fund goal” My boss at the time asked one day why we didn’t like each other? I looked at him baffled…”he’s my favorite office mate I said. I adore him.” “But you’re so MEAN to him,” he replied puzzled at my behavior. He eventually ‘got it” and we now laugh over his confusion.
But that was fifteen years ago. Before the internet exploded and changed our lives. Before message boards and chat rooms and instant messaging and of course “social media.” For me, a writer, the ability to snark on line has been a godsend. I’ve found other kindred spirits — a group of us even found common ground in the fact we’d all been banned from a “ahem” family parenting board -a DEBATE board no less — for ‘excessive sarcasm.’ Apparently it’s considered bad form to tell another poster that she was standing on the dock and the ship with the point on it went sailing past her.” The phrase “cry me a river” is also considered ‘offensive’ to the “mommy centered” powers that be at Ivillage. Who knew?
Then along came Facebook. For me, a compulsive “keeper in toucher” I love that I get daily glimpses into the lives of my nearest and dearest. I love that I’ve come to know casual acquaintances in a deeper more interesting way. I love that old friends have resurfaced and once again a significant part of my life. And of course I love that it gives me more opportunity to snark. After all I live my life by two major mottos: “It’s not a good day until you’ve made someone laugh out loud” and “A Day Without Sarcasm is Like a Day without Sunshine.” I love to banter. I love verbal sparring and have enjoyed some truly hysterical back and forth postings with friends new and old. I was used to my supportive communities at Mothertalkers and Banshees who understood my style — and who could give as well as they could take, much to my glee. I also knew that my sarcastic ways don’t define me…my friends in real life and in cyber space know that when support is needed I”m there. When kudos are called for I happily give them. And that my snark is only one part of who I am.
But on Facebook no one posts in a vacuum. A sarcastic rejoinder to friend isn’t just read by him or her it is read by all their friends — people who only know me as a face under someones status update – not as a living breathing complex human being. And until recently when I was told gently by one friend that her friends were concerned that I was some sort of Facebook bully for all my sarcastic posts — I didn’t realize the implications. I’ve tried to tone it down but for me toning down my sarcasm is a kin to giving up cookie dough ice cream. Realistically it will last for a day or two tops then I’m back in the freezer for a heaping dish of it.
I admit I was puzzled why my real life snark was greeted this way on the pages of Facebook. And then one day it hit me. On Facebook and other “social media” sites we are truly at the center of our own universes. We can tell everyone what we’re doing, thinking, eating, saying, reading, and watching. We can reach out for support in hard times and reach out to share the good times. But existing at the center of this world we also collide with OTHER people’s universes and the sometimes startling reality that it’s not all about us . If someone posts about a killer workout how many among us don’t think…”wow. they must think I’m a real slug”? If someone exults over career success how many of us think “wow, I must look like a slacker to them?” When in fact they probably don’t think anything of the kind, they’re in their OWN universal center not ours. But at the center of our own universes it’s hard to remember that. Once after a long night of wrangling with my checkbook I posted about feeling poor and was promptly admonished by several ‘not to complain’ because I still had a job. once after a frustrating real life exchange with a professional colleague I posted about my irritation and received a flurry of responses from people thinking I either meant a) them or b)someone I worked with when i fact it was neither A or B. Oh and lest you think I’m beyond placing myself at the center of my own universe I’m guilty of it too. I’ve had to work hard not to respond to every ‘fitness’ update with a snarky comment bout my obesity. I’ve had to face up to the fact that my responses were not always appropriate. Their posts about them should get to be about them and their fitness triumphs. Not me and my big fat ass. This is where my sarcastic nature is challenged I admit it. My sarcasm is and always has been my first line of defense when challenged or when insecurity strikes. But I’m trying to use it only for good… (I’ve always thought there was a superhero in me trying to get out, maybe I’ll name her SnarkWoman)… and to remember that my universe doesn’t always have me at the center of it….and neither does yours.
See you round the status updates…
The hangover breakfast at Bessie’s is a staple of any t-dance weekend excursion to Ogunquit. Kelly and I sit companionably over our omelettes and coffee, bleary-eyed from a night of tequila, club mixes, and late night tapas overlooking Main Street. As the caffeine works its way through my system I take in our dining companions. Unlike Provincetown, that other great New England gay hot spot, Ogunquit tends to attract visitors ‘passing through” — New Yorkers or Bostonians making the trek north to Freeport to visit the L.L. Bean mothership, and French Canadians down from Quebec to walk by the ocean mingle over morning rituals with the dykes and the piano bar boys who closed down the Front Porch in the wee hours.
It is then I start to notice them. The impossibly thin women that seem to populate so many of the nearby tables. They bundle themselves up against the cool October breeze as if knowing a stiff wind could lift their bird like frames and swirl them up with the last remnants of autumn leaves that blow down Shore Road. They smooth the waists of fleece jackets (Lands End no doubt or L.L. Bean naturally) as if to draw attention to how snugly said fleeces fit against bony hips that top legs roughly the circumference of my thumb. Smart down vests (how do they all know the down vest is ‘the thing” how do thin women know this stuff?) add an extra layer of protection from the cold for their delicate waif-like frames.
Smooth shiny hair in identical hairstyles (again, how do they KNOW this stuff) falls around faces, eyes shielded by sunglasses that probably cost as much as a night at the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed. They fascinate me. I am mesmerized by one woman who rises from the table and spends what seems to be an eternity wrapping her cashmere scarf around her ballerina-like neck. The exact right number of silver bangles jangle on her arm as she retrieves her bag (Coach no doubt) from the table and moves toward the door as if knowing the way will be clear for her. Waiters, busboys, patrons will all surely step aside as this icon of thin femininity glides out of the restaurant and into the already cold sunlight of the October morning. The day will greet her warmly as she shops her way through Kittery and drinks her tall skinny latte in the afternoon on Marginal Way.
I look across the table at Kelly and then down at myself. No doubt these women did not rejoice over omlettes and grilled english muffins as we had No doubt they drank herbal tea from mugs held tightly to warm bony fingers and nibbled on dry toast. No hangover dehydration for them, surely they imbibe the requisite number of glasses of what? Evian? each day. I consider my own body in all its amazonian, fleshy glory. I look down at my own fleece jacket — LL Bean yes, but an outlet find in of all things the MEN’S department, which I have to stalk if I have any hopes of finding a jacket with sleeves long enough. Not fitted (which is a blessing) and in a glum maroon it’s a far cry from the fleeces of the impossibly thin women at breakfast. I feel lumbering, oafish, fat and clumsy in my skin, I consider my gray hair, my lack of makeup and the complete absence of bangles from my arm, no Coach bag for me, just a small wallet in my jeans does the trick. I am conscious suddenly of how CLOSE the table are together, and how I feel a sudden move would knock my neighbors coffee from his hand as if the proverbial bull in the china shop had lumbered in. I smile at Kelly across the table and she smiles back and for that moment everything is ok. I am beautiful and I am loved by her and she is beautiful and she is loved by me and I am happier than I ever thought possible.
But in that brief moment prior I wondered…as I always do…what it must be like to feel that bright sunshine on your face…and to move through the world as an impossibly thin woman.