“Excuse me while I throw this down, I’m old and cranky and tired of hearing the idiocy repeated by people who ought to know better.
Real women do not have curves. Real women do not look like just one thing.
Real women have curves, and not. They are tall, and not. They are brown-skinned, and olive-skinned, and not. They have small breasts, and big ones, and no breasts whatsoever.
Real women start their lives as baby girls. And as baby boys. And as babies of indeterminate biological sex whose bodies terrify their doctors and families into making all kinds of very sudden decisions.
Real women have big hands and small hands and long elegant fingers and short stubby fingers and manicures and broken nails with dirt under them.
Real women have armpit hair and leg hair and pubic hair and facial hair and chest hair and sexy moustaches and full, luxuriant beards. Real women have none of these things, spontaneously or as the result of intentional change. Real women are bald as eggs, by chance and by choice and by chemo. Real women have hair so long they can sit on it. Real women wear wigs and weaves and extensions and kufi and do-rags and hairnets and hijab and headscarves and hats and yarmulkes and textured rubber swim caps with the plastic flowers on the sides.
Real women wear high heels and skirts. Or not.
Real women are feminine and smell good and they are masculine and smell good and they are androgynous and smell good, except when they don’t smell so good, but that can be changed if desired because real women change stuff when they want to.
Real women have ovaries. Unless they don’t, and sometimes they don’t because they were born that way and sometimes they don’t because they had to have their ovaries removed. Real women have uteruses, unless they don’t, see above. Real women have vaginas and clitorises and XX sex chromosomes and high estrogen levels, they ovulate and menstruate and can get pregnant and have babies. Except sometimes not, for a rather spectacular array of reasons both spontaneous and induced.
Real women are fat. And thin. And both, and neither, and otherwise. Doesn’t make them any less real.
There is a phrase I wish I could engrave upon the hearts of every single person, everywhere in the world, and it is this sentence which comes from the genius lips of the grand and eloquent Mr. Glenn Marla: There is no wrong way to have a body.
I’m going to say it again because it’s important: There is no wrong way to have a body.
And if your moral compass points in any way, shape, or form to equality, you need to get this through your thick skull and stop with the “real women are like such-and-so” crap.
You are not the authority on what “real” human beings are, and who qualifies as “real” and on what basis. All human beings are real.
Yes, I know you’re tired of feeling disenfranchised. It is a tiresome and loathsome thing to be and to feel. But the tit-for-tat disenfranchisement of others is not going to solve that problem. Solidarity has to start somewhere and it might as well be with you and me.”
I am grieving tonight.
I am grieving tonight. For big things and little things. For little things that seem big. And for bad things. For bad things that happen to big people but mostly for bad things that happen to little people. My company is no longer a company. After today it becomes another company. I guess it will be “My Used To Be Company.” It’s a big thing that seems small today. It’s really not a big thing because big people will take care of all the little things- the small things- and make it okay for all the little people. It’s sad and bittersweet because we had to say goodbye to a lot of work friends. That’s part of my grief for sure. A small part.
The biggest part of my grief is for my friends apart from work. My what happens in your life while you are spending your life at work friends. My friends who lost Paul this week. I want to say Paul was my friend too. Not in the strictest sense. Not a friend lately more specifically. Time does that you know. But one of those somebodies that I used to know. (Thanks, Gotye, I guess?) I met Paul for the first time at the beach when I was in my twenties on a weekend off from training for a company that used to be my company (no grief about that one) at the beach with his then-wife Suzanne and some other friends who had gathered for a late fall weekend away back we we could all do those things at a moment’s notice. I met Paul then and liked him immediately—I LOVED Suzanne immediately because that is what happens to me when I meet someone that I know has always been one of the pieces missing from my life puzzle. The edge pieces are usually already in place you just need those inside pieces to make the picture clearer. And better—There was nothing NOT to like about Paul— funny and open and fun fun fun. Big and strong and handsome in that particular way nature gets it right with strawberry blond guys sometimes. That first weekend I met Paul he actually saved me.
The five of us had been at the beach all day with coolers and chairs and the all the accessories people think they need at the beach and we were dreading the long sandy walk back. Another guy and I, emboldened now by most the contents, now residing inside us, of the cooler we had to carry, decided to float the cooler through the water to the rocks that led up to the condo. A shortcut. The tide was coming in faster than we anticipated and we quickly found ourselves being thrown against those seemingly benign but razor sharp rocks desperately trying to get control of the cooler and ourselves. I was in trouble. More than I wanted to admit. More than I WOULD admit. I was afraid and embarrassed and verging on panicky. I tried to cover. (It’s a thing I do. I know this about me now. I still do it sometimes but I try not to do it. At least I know I do it now.) I remember trying to shout—as wryly as I could with a mouth full of seawater—something about rocks and hard places as my back banged and scraped over both when a shadow fell over me. I looked up and out of a giant silhouette that blocked out the harshest of the sunlight were two big arms reaching down towards me. It was Paul. Paul literally pulled me up out of the swirling crash of the water and the rocks and the danger, the real danger, I was in. (Oh, he pulled the other guy out too, so double-hero, but that guy can tell his own story) So Paul saved me. We laughed about then and later. Me making jokes a mile a minute and us emptying that cooler and many more after. That fun beach weekend led to more after that. Suzanne invariably pregnant each time with what would be their two beautiful children. Each one of them more angel than human I used to think. Still do.
So Paul left this week. Today I went to a visitation (a word both horrible and apropos. Mostly horrible but also fitting because it recalls something associated with aliens and an event like that is alien in execution and in the strange creatures that it summons sometimes) to see the people grieving for Paul. Suzanne his used to be company I guess. That’s what happens when people divorce. I grieve tonight for the pain today in her beautiful eyes and her beautiful heart. I can’t imagine her sadness. Her sadness for her children they share. (Can their be any greater partner in crime than the person who you have children with?—and I mean that in every sense. From the hilarious to the criminal) Her sadness for the guilt that is not hers to bear but that she will take up nonetheless because that is what mothers, lovers, friends like her do when their is no one left to bear it. I grieve for her for the grim knowledge that something soft in her children had to harden today. Small open places that seal and dim when bad things happen to little people before they should. And I grieve for those little people too. Those half angel people. I grieve tonight for them. I grieve that I wasn’t with them longer today because by small used to be company seemed big today. I grieve for the little boy, Paul’s boy, who I frantically wanted to give something to today. Something. Anything. The contents of my mind. The contents of my heart. I absurdly gave him the contents of my pocket. Two wrapped candy cinnamon discs. It was all I could manage today.
I want to tell him one day, and his half-angel sister, about his dad and how he helped me that day and about the fun we had and how a life that can treat you so harshly and so bizarrely that a stranger might force candy on you at your dad’s funeral can be really great and special. How it it won’t be easier but it will be better. How people can come into your life that you always knew you needed. How miraculous and sweet it can be when it happens. And it will happen. How people love you when when they can’t show it. Or say it. How people can love you even when they leave.
Tonight I grieve for Paul. For the depths. For the rocks and the swirls that he must have known. For the shadows that come and the voices within them. The voices that whisper and hiss. Those whispers that drown out the songs and laughter and even the shouts. The darks places and the shadows that block out the light and where no arms can seem to reach you. I grieve for all of those that have felt those rocks. Seen those shadows. Found no arms. I grieve tonight for all of us. For anyone who has felt alone. To whomever may read this: there isn’t always safety in numbers, but there is light in numbers. Light to banish the shadows. There is hope. There is love. Support each other. Help each other. Reach with your arms when you can. Hug. Hold. Help.
I grieve tonight. But not alone.