i don’t start fan clubs.

For a long time it could be said that I didn’t like anyone. I mean, that could still sort of be said I guess. Anyway, my reputation of not liking anyone sometimes made it seem like no big deal when I would actually speak up about a person.

If I commented that a new coworker seemed lazy or wasn’t up to par, it was brushed off as “Well, you don’t like anybody” or if someone was dating someone and I saw things about them that they didn’t see “Of course you don’t like them, you don’t like anyone!”

Commenting on traits that people have or had that seemed odd or suspect to me just seemed to others that I didn’t like anyone, or was being critical or judgemental.

Someone’s new boss a dozen years ago that was overly religious and hug-y and I said something seemed fishy, but was “wrong” because how could a man of god giving this opportunity be a bad guy. Fast forward to him reorganizing his company and milking that guy for all of his knowledge and experience and then letting him go without much of a warning.

The friend who meets a guy on the internet who is living with an ex girlfriend and something seems off to me, even more so when he proposes a few months later – but when I bring it up I’m accused of being unhappy for her since I had just gone through my own breakup. Naturally you can’t say anything after the fact when he leaves her and causes nothing but turmoil, because it’s insensitive and more than that, not helpful.

High school friends who like someone I don’t and then end up in a feud with them at some point in those four years. Co-workers who think I am too judge-y of new employees and end up bitching about them over drinks within months. My mom thinking I am too critical of someone before I get to know them – Steve thinking I’m being silly when I comment on seemingly disingenuous models and photographers looking to connect.

There have been a slew of incidents like this in my lifetime, so much so that I am sure you could poll everyone who I have ever known and they can recall a time when I cautioned against someone or expressed disinterest in a friendship/acquaintance. I’m not proud of the fact (okay, I’m a little proud) that I have been right more than I have been wrong.

I don’t know everything, or everyone, obviously – but – I do get a pretty good read right off the bat. It takes a few runs before people get it sometimes, though. Make no mistake, it’s a good feeling to be right about things, but not when it’s people causing drama or pain to others.

We can’t make other people see things or people the way that we do, no matter how much we think it might help in the long run. Everyone has to get there at their own pace, and despite my opinions, I am a firm believer that not everyone is for everyone, so it’s possible I’m wrong on occasion for any number of reasons.

The most recent disdain of a person I recall is someone who married into my family, and I didn’t want anything to do with her the minute I met her. Sloth-like, lackluster personality, I assumed she would eventually die off and be replaced by someone more fitting to my liking, and to what I considered the vibe of my family. I wasn’t completely quiet about it, but I kept it mellow, only really expressing my vehement dislike to those who had a touch of that same dislike, or no real opinion.

I spearheaded the planning of a bridal shower when none of her family or friends seemed to step up (should have been a clear indicator of her fan base, in retrospect) and I played the game – but not without “accidentally” dropping my bridesmaids gift on the way out of said shower where I clarified to someone that she had been a bit of a cheat, and donating my dress and gifted jewelry to goodwill the day I returned from the wedding (I’m bitchy, ask my mom!) I also snapped at both my mother and my boyfriend in a diner the morning of the wedding before crying about how not right this whole thing was.

This has got to be the only one I feel bad about being right about. I had hoped she’d prove me wrong, that I’d have to eat my words – years of scathing, dismissive and uninterested words that would taste terrible, but honestly, I would have been thrilled to be wrong.

I wasn’t. There’s a divorce in the making, she’s hacking into social media accounts, telling some tales and her true colors are shining through more than a Kodak commercial from the nineties.

I’ve mostly learned to keep it to myself, or a handful of people in that same circle. Smile and nod and let shit happen. Unfortunately that doesn’t help, either, so maybe my original approach was best.

Like I said, I’m not always right, so if I give you my opinion or impression of a person and you don’t want to take it, that’s no skin off my back.

I’m never going to say I told you so, but, chances are good that I told you so.

 

oops.

If you’ve done something recently that made you feel like an idiot, or as if you’d lost all common sense … allow me to share this gem with you so you know you’re not alone.

Last night around 5:30, I lit what was left of a candle in our bathroom. A nice blue-green candle, smellin’ like the sea, chillin’ in a cute metal holder full of various sized slits.

I forgot about it.

Like, really forgot.

Around 11, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and commented for probably the fourth time  “weird …the diffuser is making it sort of smokey in here tonight” as I walked through the kitchen.

The bathroom also had a nightlight on which is  why I hadn’t noticed the glow on previous trips… and the candle was on the top shelf… of a tiered and of course, grated etagere.

This poor neglected candle had burned down to its bottom, dripping a trail of its lovely scent and waxy existence through the holder, and through the grates of each tier onto everything in its wake before finally hitting the floor.

Also?

Black smoke on the white ceiling tile and all around the top of the room. I mean, ALL around.

Did I mention that the bathroom is like 25 square feet? With no ventilation?

Yep.

And we keep the door half closed  over so the AC doesn’t float in there instead of the good parts of our place.

Mmm. Hmm.

Oh! I almost forgot – I recently spent like 3 weeks of my free time patching, priming and painting those walls. And then scrubbing and updating that hideous linoleum with a (two actually) fresh coat of porch paint. Sacrificed a gel manicure, two t-shirts and a pair of sweats to this project as well.

All that work and it’s being threatened by some “garbage ass Target candle in an IKEA holder and how the fuck didn’t we notice this hours ago?”

So here I am at 11:30, feverishly trying to scrape the dried wax from the painted floor, without scraping the painted floor … and getting the wax off the metal shelving without scratching the metal shelving … and picking/rubbing/scratching it off the toilet tank, the hairspray, the handle of the hairbrush, a bottle of lotion and the bins these things are stored in.

I’m barefoot, stepping on hard bits of wax, forehead sweating from leaping up to wipe the tops of the walls, cursing myself for my love of ambience and hate of overhead lightning.

I used a butter knife wrapped in a baby wipe. Well, like 8 different baby wipes. I also used half a roll of paper towels and what feels like an entire bottle of multi-purpose cleaner.

I think I got it all.

I’ll be doing a thorough examination and bathroom cleaning after work, but man what a jackass.

So yea, chin up, I’m pretty sure whatever stupid thing you’ve done this week doesn’t hold a candle to this.

you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna jae

A few years ago, at least six or seven by now, while eating lunch at work, I found a bone in the tuna sandwich I had made for myself the night before.

Not a little teeny splinter of a bone, a full-on, looked like a golf tee, solid as shit almost cracked a tooth BONE.

I threw the sandwich out and when I got home I wrote an email to the tuna company and let them know this happened and while it was gross and unacceptable, I’m moving on and hey maybe just check your tuna better so some old lady doesn’t choke to death in the future. They reply and couldn’t be nicer, explain how tuna is caught and all that stuff I don’t need to hear if I have hope of ever eating it again. Then, the coupons. Scads of free cans, money off, all the discount tuna you could ever want.

The envelope of bargains arrives a few days later, and Steve comments that it came from a company that wasn’t the brand of tuna we had used. Umm, what?

Yea, I emailed the wrong company about my fish bone blues.

The only thing to do? Email the right company and tell them what happened, leaving out, of course, the part where I blamed it on another company and made out like a tuna bandit.

You know what they say in their apology email?

Yea, you do …. LET US SEND YOU SOME COUPONS …

I decline, because I have plenty of free tuna coming my way, but they insist. So I express my gratitude and when the envelope shows up with an entire ocean of free tunas, I pack them and the others up and send them to my parents. Because honestly, I am never eating tuna again.

I think a year or so later I decided it was ridiculous to have given up something I ate pretty regularly because of a fluke. So, I go for it and make one of my favorite lunches; cucumber slices topped with tuna, bacon and a drizzle of Italian dressing. I got myself a plate of them made up, got comfortable on the couch for some trashy day time television and by the third one, I had forgotten all about the skeletal difficulties of the past.

Ahhhh.

I pick up the fourth one … mid chew, I’m like woah this bacon is over cooked.

NOPE.

FUCK.

BONE.

Not kidding, couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

I couldn’t get past it and I scraped the rest of it into the trash.

What are the odds of that happening —- twice?!

I really haven’t eaten tuna since. Don’t show it to me, don’t talk about it. It’s bony and gross and I just have to pass.

Fast forward to today;  it’s a million humid degrees and I am not turning on my oven, or cooking on the stove longer than I need to. Steve says, “We have everything for those tuna boat things, right? Why don’t we have that for dinner?”

I stare at him, into his soul “Really??”

“Yea man, they’re good. ..and we haven’t had them since you were fat” he laughs (we use this as a measurement of time around here).

“They tried to killllll me. TWICE!”

He stares back waiting for me to realize I’m a bit absurd.

Fine.

I make the bacon, I make the tuna. I assemble them and I fearfully take a bite of the first one. Well, I put the whole thing in my mouth because I’m a monster but guess what??

BONE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

So was the second one, the third and the fourth one I had.

I didn’t have more than that, but I think I would have been in the clear if I did. Looks like I’ve got ninety-nine problems but tuna fish ain’t one!

 

 

stranger cake

I never met a cake I didn’t like; chocolate, marble, carrot, angel food, pound, ice cream, funfetti, crumb, yellow, cheese, vanilla … I mean, I really like cake. Double like if it has frosting. In the rare case when someone doesn’t like the frosting (hi, mom!) I am happy to save it from the a trip to the trash and plop it onto mine.

Yep, definitely never met a cake I didn’t like, except for stranger cake.

Stranger cake is a term I started using when I worked in restaurants and families or groups would offer their leftover birthday or celebration cake to the staff. My coworkers would flock to the free cake, but not me. Sure it’s cake and probably delicious, but it’s from strangers.

Not professional bakers who are strangers to me, or a food establishment where I don’t personally know the people.

Strangers who could have sneezed on it, not washed their hands while making it, or even worse, have half a dozen animals who climb all over their kitchen while that potentially scrumptious treat is exposed to cat tails and sandpaper tongues.

It’s a weird thing that has always been one of my hang ups.

Potlucks? Don’t invite me.

Leftovers from a dinner party my mom went to …Who made them? Have I met them? Do they have pets?

That Amish friendship bread that has to sit on your counter for a week – from a random customer who always talks about her cats and pet bird? I’m all set.

Church run spaghetti dinners and pancakes breakfasts? Happy to donate but skip my plate.

Full spread at a cookout or party? You’ll find me quietly asking who made what before I even know what the food is so I can decide what makes it to my plate (or not).

If you know me, you probably already know this weird thing. If you don’t, I may divulge it at a totally inappropriate time. Say, when you are out to dinner with me after only knowing me a few days and a kind stranger brings you a piece of birthday cake because your group sang to her daughter. I might, I don’t know, shout at you to not eat stranger cake, and say that could have been made with unwashed poop hands while you have a mouthful of it (sorry, Andrew!). Sometimes I get lucky though and someone else has an issue with community food too, and I don’t have to feel [so] weird.

It’s a weird thing to be a foodie, such a lover of snacks and treats and have this barrier that sometimes keeps you from them. It was even more weird at almost three hundred pounds. Believe me the last thing I wanted to ever do was turn down cake.

brave-ish

A few months ago, after hearing my tale of woe as the struggling fat girl turned weight loss success story, the woman I was speaking to sat, mouth agape, finally saying “How brave!”

In my memory of this afternoon I cocked my head like a dog does and she clarified “to go through all of that, just to be happy in your body, that takes bravery.” I smiled and shrugged so I didn’t comment in a fashion that seemed ungrateful for her acceptance, or her pat on the back.

Brave is hardly the word I would use to describe my experience. Without sounding like a poor me, self-deprecating kind of gal, I have never walked into a burning building to save anyone, battled cancer or worked in a job where I put my life on the line every day in a way that would show some kind of bravery. I was fat and now I’m not, I don’t think there’s anything brave about that.

I forgot about this instance until recently, in two separate conversations with other losers who have also had plastic/skin removal surgeries, I admitted that not only did I not feel brave about the whole thing, but in fact, kind of sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to no longer be battling a weight nearing 300 pounds, or questioning every piece of food I put in my mouth. I don’t weight myself two and three times a day after eating or going to the bathroom, I’m more comfortable in my skin and body than I have ever been but I don’t see that as an act of bravery. Necessity, maybe. Cleaning up a mess, definitely.

In one of the conversations where I am talking about my occasional lackluster feelings toward my arm scars (and maybe, depending on the day, the results in general), I say – that in my frustration about this, I am more mad than anything. Mad that I was even in a position to need all the things I’ve done or had to do to have a “normal” body. Mad that maybe it could have been prevented some how, mad that obesity is a thing that happened, or I let happen to me. Mad that in the last four years I missed a total of  14 weeks of work to recover from surgeries. Mad about how many hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars disappeared from my bank account to fully cover one of those surgeries, and part of the others, and co-pays and pain pills and protein bars and vitamins. Mad when I think about what things and experiences could have taken place in those weeks off or with that money.

Maybe, swimming in my usual sea of unpopular opinions, I don’t think of the word grateful to describe how I feel now, but that doesn’t mean I am not. I see other weight loss surgery patients, or people who didn’t have surgery agonize over their loose skin and how they wish they could afford it, and I know that I am lucky I was able to do any of these things. I have gotten messages from people asking about the process for weight loss surgery itself, for the future, because they don’t have insurance right now, or a job that allows them time off.

I know that I am fortunate.

I revel in my size medium shirts, my ‘normal’ store clothes shopping, my belly fat and floppy arms not holding me back from things. I still do a double take when I see myself in photos taken by others or see my reflection in something new. I am proud of my transformation and the correlation between my confidence and accomplishments is not lost on me. The life I am living now feels like the one I always wanted to be living and I am in awe of that all the time.

I’m more than happy to field emails and phone calls from other patients going through the same program at my hospital, and I tell them in no uncertain terms that I would do this again and again to change my life for the better.

I don’t regret the decisions or the results, in any way. I just sometimes wish it wasn’t something that even had to happen. Who knows, maybe there’s a little bravery in admitting that.

I am.

I haven’t posted anything here in a few months, and I may not have written anything that wasn’t a paper or discussion board response in just as long. I am writing this from a dorm room in Colorado where I am for the week as part of my Counselor Education Program. One of my daily sessions is group therapy and today we were given prompts to write a “poem” that we shared and discussed, so I thought I’d make that the meat of this post, to sort of bring me back to this blog.

I am

I am open and strong
I wonder what comes next
I hear music everywhere
I see something good in everything
I want to be the best version of myself
I am open and strong

I pretend to know what I’m doing
I feel happy when I think about the fall
I touch the lives of others
I worry about everyone
I cry when I think about losing loved ones
I am open and strong

I understand that I determine my worth
I say that the time will pass anyway
I dream about everything
I try to make others comfortable in my presence
I hope that I give off the vibes i intend
I am open and strong

Goodnight.

irony.

A couple of months ago I sat in the very same examination room where I had first met my primary doctor a few years prior. I was here for my yearly physical and I had been having some headaches, which I wasn’t overly concerned about but mentioned, since I had a dizzy spell and fallen the week before.

It was no big deal, and in retrospect, probably my own fault. I was handing out prizes during a Q&A session at the weight and wellness expo I was participating in and did a sort of squat to not be a distraction and ‘walked’ backwards in my chunky heeled shoes in said squat position until my feet went out from under my throwing me down and back into a table where I hit my head and bruised my arm.

Embarrassing, but I survived. So much for not being a distraction.

Anyway, here I am with good old Potter telling him about the previous year and everything looks good and oh what’s this about headaches. He immediately insists on a brain MRI, which makes sense because he is old school and very thorough, and he leaves to let me get dressed. When he returns he says that he noticed a lump in my throat and could he check it out. Oh, what, not just an MRI? An ultrasound of my thyroid now?

COOL.

I remember leaving the office and my eyes were teary, but not because I was scared, but because, THIS is how my luck worked. Fat for years without a single real health concern but some high blood pressure and snoring, and the taunting of the onset of diabetes… lose nearly ninety pounds, have excess skin removed, have consistently normal blood pressure, take all your vitamins, need no medications for anything but oh hey your brain and your thyroid might wanna fuck shit up for ya.

Please hold.

Also, please postpone that arm surgery you have scheduled temporarily, it’s not a priority if, you know, there’s a tumor.

I had the MRI which I hope to never have again because one Ativan was no match for that tube and the headphones they gave me barely covered the noise and I swear I was in there for three hours (it was 30 minutes, maybe). I kept thinking, what if someone comes in and shoots the place up and I’m in this tube and can’t get out and calm down you watch too many movies.

I also had to have the ultrasound of my thyroid, which was no big deal at all, except they kept asking me to stop talking. Story of my life.

The results of the MRI come back with no issues regarding my brain. Looks like I have full sinus cavities, and a partially empty pituitary something or other which means there is an endocrinologist in my future. Okay, sure.

Oh, and that lump he felt? A three centimeter nodule on my thyroid, we’re gonna need to biopsy that. Wait. What? Why?

To determine if it’s cancerous.

“Do you think I have cancer?”

“I have treated patients with thyroid cancer for over thirty years and they’re all still alive, so let’s just get that biopsy scheduled.”

”So, you think I have cancer.”

:deep grandfatherly sigh:

“What I think doesn’t matter without the biopsy”

”And, my arm surgery?”

”let’s just wait on that…”

”..because you think I have cancer…”

”You’re one of my favorite patients, you know that?”

He proceeds to give me his personal cell phone number so I can text him later that day or weekend when I inevitably think of something I need to know or forgot to ask.

I have the strangest moment of my life, as if I’m watching a movie and I wonder if I have cancer. What the fuck. Is that why I have these headaches, is it related? This lump in my throat feels like a soccer ball and no, I don’t have any pain when I swallow, right? I’m hyper aware of this teeny mass and I just cry thinking about how fucking sad it would be if I died.

How morbid, I know.

How ironic though, that I’m finally in a place where I feel good, I feel like my life makes sense, I’m ambitious in a way I never was, I’m doing things, I’m happy …. and maybe I don’t get to be after all.

I’d be a damn liar if I didn’t say I spent the rest of the afternoon laying on my bed weepy and overthinking all the possibilities like always.

I’m extra emotional because we’re going to my parents for Thanksgiving a few days later, I cry about that. I cry about what Steve will eat for dinner when I’m dead, who will know how to make his coffee, will he be too sad to move on, will my parents survive this possible tragedy… what will people say about me when I’m gone, do I need surgery …what will happen … am I overreacting, probably, what if I’m not, what the fuck kinda shit is this anyway.

Then I cry about all the people I’ve known (and not known) who had afternoons like this being scared or feeling sorry for themselves and not living to tell about it. Then I cry for their parents, and their Steve’s and I text my cancer riddled actively dying neighbor who talks me off the ledge and offers me some xanax.

I get it all out of my system and stop feeling sorry for myself for something that’s nothing so far.

I have the biopsy,  which is done by needle, and I hope you never have to have one. They took multiple samples with a long thin needle and I watched it on a screen, neck bent, not allowed to talk (you’re killing me here!) wondering what the different colors and flashing things meant. The same woman who did the ultrasound resting her hand on mine to keep me calm, she knew there was something there before any of us.

I get a phone call the week before Christmas, 2 weeks before my arm surgery and it’s Potter. “Merry Christmas, it’s benign! You don’t have cancer”

I’m driving and I’m so relieverd, I cry. “And I can have my arm surgery?”

”Why would you want to have arm surgery with full sinus cavities? Make an appointment with an ENT first…”

I see an ENT a few days before my brachioplasty … she hardly seemed concerned and I said “Dr. Potter insisted…” she prescribed some Zyrtec and antibiotics “That makes sense, he’s old school.”

Like I said, he’s thorough. And two-for-two on saving my life, I’d say.

 

parking lot shuffle

Parking lots are one of my least favorite places in the world; people are walking anywhere they want, backing out of spaces without looking, leaving carts all over the place, whipping into spaces to beat someone else to it, staring at their phones while they stroll  (or drive!) and sometimes pushing their carts too close to your ankles.

The parking lot thing that has always bothered me most is that weird two steps forward-three hops back thing you have to do on your way to or from your car; when someone is letting you walk, but then they’re not … then they are … then not …  and nobody can decide what’s happening and everyone is watching to see what happens next.

Okay, maybe everyone isn’t watching, but it has certainly felt that way.

When you’re fat … well, I can’t speak for everyone, but when I was fat, I was sure that people were looking at me almost all the time. I’m sure they hardly ever were, but I felt eyes on me every time I left the house in an outfit I wasn’t sure of, or was eating in public, or oddly enough since it’s a positive thing, exercising. I digress …

I used to run as fast as I could (think: turtle speed) when a car was letting me cross; I didn’t want to give anyone a reason to honk at me or draw any unnecessary attention to myself. I’d usually make it to the other side virtually unscathed. Out of breath, a little sweaty or red faced, but no real embarrassment. As long as I didn’t make eye contact with anyone while trying to catch my breath on my way in to what always seemed to be the grocery store.

Today I came out of the store and a car was coming toward me, then slowed and waved me on. I sort of ran, maybe more like jogged across the lot to my car.

Wait, what?

I did it because it was raining and hailing and sleeting seemingly all at the same time and the wind had blown the hood of my coat off twice already and I hate wet hair more than anything – I was just trying to get to my car! But, yea, I jogged across a parking lot, effortlessly and without even thinking about it until I was pulling out of the lot and saw the old two step parking lot shuffle going on with someone else.

Of all the times I could swear someone was paying attention to me, or feasting their judgey eyes on my every move, I’m pretty sure nobody even noticed my personal ray of sunshine coming through the cold, gray day.

happenstance.

In one of my classes we had to watch a movie recently where a high school student from a mining town, who was the son of a coal miner witnessed the passing stream of Sputnik, and it changed his life forever.

The movie followed our discussion and reading on a man named Krumbolzt whose theory finds indecision about career paths desirable and sensible; giving us the opportunity to learn and grow from unplanned events. The movie was October Sky, and while I initially wasn’t that interested in the required watch, I really enjoyed it. The main character witnesses this event and becomes obsessed with making rockets, even when his father tries to stop him, or his school officials get in the way, and being based on a true story, we know that he eventually worked for NASA.

And it got me thinking.

How many things in my life are the way they are based on one single incident or decision?

(or lack of decision)

How different might things be if I didn’t jump on the unplanned opportunities or see or hear something that piqued my interest?

How far back can I think about things that I did, or didn’t do that built on each other? (The answer is pretty far back…)

When I was working at Uno’s sometime in 2000 or so, and all my friends were going to New Orleans and I opted not to go because I had a French midterm that week; and ended up chatting with a guy online who later became a long time on and off tumultuous relationship. Would we ever have met if I went on the trip? Could I have avoided years of annoying on again off again bullshit? Or would we have met another time and had a happily ever after (SO GLAD WE DIDN’T) …

When my family was moving to Wisconsin in 2002, and I was already beyond old enough to stick around in Jersey on my own, would I have chosen to do that if I didn’t have as shitty night at my waitressing job and get into an argument with said boyfriend before deciding I could do both of those things anywhere?

When I was in Wisconsin and hating it and decided to reply to an email I got from an old love interest, what would have happened if I didn’t reply? Or didn’t keep up the correspondence after one or two exchanges?

What if I hadn’t let the crappy attitude of my manager piss me off one Friday to the point that I used it as an excuse to quit my job I was starting to hate? Would I have still gotten in my car that Sunday morning and drove to Massachusetts to explore that rekindled relationship?

Would I still be a fat, over educated waitress who felt stuck and lonely in the Midwest? Would I still be in half ass-ed relationships with dudes who didn’t know what they were doing either? Would I still be answering questions about what I was doing working in jobs that didn’t require the backpack of degrees I’d had?

Would I be living in a different kind of what-if world? Where I was questioning all the positive things that I could do and change about myself and my life rather than actually doing it?

I have long been a person who doesn’t go with the flow, or follow traditions for the sake of traditions, and I gotta be honest, sometimes I wasn’t sure that was going to pay off at any point.

I’m not saying anyone should be reckless with their talents, or time or feelings but maybe just take a step back and see how things are. Not how you think they are, how they actually are and compare that to how you want them to be. They match up? Great! They don’t? Maybe gave your cage a little rattle. (Don’t let the rattle of your cage be silenced by the opinions of others, because there will be opinions!)

I was always saying that maybe something was a sign that I should (or shouldn’t) do a thing and my friends would think it was as stretch, or give me crap for believing in the “universe” … but as I’m sitting here listening to howling wind and a torrential downpour sipping my coffee and feeling pretty good, I don’t feel like it was a stretch at all. I can’t help but think that old sad, confused, seemingly directionless fat me would have to admit, the universe did not steer me wrong!

more than just coats.

My winter coat is too big but I keep wearing it anyway.

It’s nothing so special … your average knee-length, quilted pattern, insulated jacket. Columbia, packable, light, warm, black, size XL.

I bought it in 2015, and it’s probably been too big since the end of the following winter, if I’m honest. I bought it one cold afternoon when the threat of snow reminded me that I had thrown my last coat in a donation box earlier that year because it had gotten too big.

I spent years wearing heavy sweatshirts fleece jackets and scarves to avoid the winter coat situation. No coat was flattering, at all, and I hated feeling constricted, bulkier and just overall uncomfortable – I always felt ridiculous – think Randy a la Christmas Story! I broke down and got a not-too-puffy puffy coat at Burlington Coat Factory at some point before moving to Massachusetts and I wore it to death, out of necessity mostly and believed that it looked good – for what it was.

Fast forward to the winter of 2013, Steve decided he wanted to get a new winter coat and I thought that I could probably stand to replace mine as well. We went to REI where they were having a huge sale, and Steve said if I found a coat I liked he’d buy it for me. We split up and went to our respective departments where I tried on easily half a dozen winter jackets and coats. Every style I liked I tried – the largest sizes in some only went up to XL and they wouldn’t even zipper halfway. He walked over with about 4 jackets for himself that he was trying to eliminate and I must have looked like someone ran over my dog, because he started asking what was wrong, what happened.

Embarrassing to admit nothing fit.

In an entire department of winter coats and jackets not a single one fit.

He didn’t believe me, or pretended not to for my benefit, and picked out a few more for me to try on. I tried them on to the tune of nope, no way and get the fuck outta here girl this will never fit you.

Maybe the men’s department has something? Who cares where you get it if you like it and it fits?

I oblige the suggestion and roughly twenty more minutes of taking jackets and coats on and off, sweating, being frustrated, probably being hungry, because why wouldn’t that be the way when I couldn’t jam myself into any clothing I was trying on? Men’s jackets were either too tight or too big, and the too big was sort of a nice feeling until you acknowledge that the tag is a 2x.

Not being large enough to fill out a men’s 2x was not the silver lining I needed.

I gave up.

I got mad.

I got shitty and we checked out and left. Steve with two new jackets he would try out and get down to one and me with nothing but a reignited hatred toward winter coats.

I guess I still wear it because is kind of special in the sense that after hating all things winter jackets and coats I walked into a store, picked it out, tried it on and it fit. No asking if they carried it in a large size, or had anything in the elusive “back room”, I didn’t have to choose another style because this one wasn’t flattering. I didn’t have to take a gigantic breath to try and zip it, it just fit, just like that. I didn’t need a men’s jacket, or a  special order from a catalog or specialty store. I just made a decision and walked out happier than I had ever been in the winter coat arena.

I think we reminisced about it once since then, maybe when I hit the fifty pound weight loss mark or got my new coat; at a point when it was less sad, and just factual. In the end though, this jacket is too big and it will be the last winter I wear it. On the upside, I’ll be able to go into a store and pick a new one right off the rack, and that’s a pretty sweet trade off.

I asked him earlier today if he remembered that night, and he thought for a minute or two and said “Vaguely … I know I couldn’t decide and bought myself two coats and then had to return one … I offered to buy you one but you couldn’t decide” – bless his heart.