It’s on the long drive home from work that I feel it. I say “long”, but my 45 minutes drive from Columbus to home would’ve been considered a gift when I lived in Atlanta. But it’s 45 minutes of no traffic, an actual drive, a slog at the end of a long day, just piling miles on my poor little car. I usually get home feeling exhausted, like the day is over, even though I still have to pick up my son from day care, go to the grocery store, cook dinner, set the table, and then initiate the full bedtime ritual. And then I turn around and it’s 9:00 PM and the day is gone.
It’s on the long drive home from work that I feel it – the tug on the right side of my back where I always feel It. No idea why – this is how my back cinches up whenever it does. Same spot, same way my body curls into a Q, and then a week of uncurling myself slowly. The pills and batches have helped quite a bit this time, as has the meager amount of yoga I can do to loosen things up. I’ll be back on my feet in no time. But what I feel now, pressing against the Ben-Gay patch on my back, isn’t just pain. It’s fat. It’s fucking fat, returning.
I know it’s not actually fat – as in, I am not surprised when I weigh myself later and find that I have not, in fact, gained ten pounds since throwing my back out on Sunday. I’ve just maintained the same weight I had three weeks ago, when I had been consistently melting fat off my body. It’s the expectations game that has me. That, and I can’t pull myself upright, so my forced slouch is bunching up everything unfavorably. It’s all I can think about: this stupid, ugly, fat body that nobody wants to be near.
I’ve realized the biggest struggle of doing something like this is maintaining something like this. That’s not earth-shattering news or anything, but writing all this down is making me think about it a lot harder than I ever have when trying to get myself in shape. I can’t even force myself to complain with the fervor I had a few weeks ago. I’m just bummed. I feel old, fat, lonely, and unlovable with an undercurrent of I Miss My Friend Who is No Longer with us. It ain’t no fun.
THIS is where the rubber meets the road. I think I could have maintained my pace and my energy if it weren’t for injury and mourning. But that’s the thing: death happens. Injuries happen. Other unexpected life events happen, all the time, every time. You can’t improve your body or mind or anything else in a vacuum – you need to do it in a way that won’t be completely blown to bits when Terrible Fate calls your number. Because that’s when you find out what’s important to you. That’s when you shed things that aren’t vital just so you can get by.
Of course, alternately, I’m just kind of stuck in a voodoo curse kind of existence, where every few months everything goes to hell in one way or another and I’m always playing catch-up in a way that, I feel like, most people aren’t. Or maybe I’m wrong. Rima talks about this a lot, about how Facebook is propaganda people use to convince others (and, come on, themselves) that they have these awesome, fun lives. I try not to get sucked in, but I do. I look at how happy other people are and I’m jealous because, outside of my son, I can’t even fake that level of joy about my own dumb life. But, also, I’ve just been put through the grinder for the last few years. I haven’t had stability – in money, in love, in family. It’s constant flux, constant worry. Loneliness.
I’ve said this a few times on stage but it bears repeating: I cannot imagine the indelible luxury of being bored. I literally cannot imagine it. There is always something coming for me. I’m always trying to find a new job, or place to live, or unsuccessfully trying to date or mending heartaches. What on earth would it feel like to be married and with the same job for ten – shit – FIVE years in a row? How do people do it? How do people just sit there and be happy? It’s inconceivable.
I am laying prone on the couch, heating pad underneath, flipping through Netflix trying to find something to ignore while I read Twitter on my phone. Baby Mama is in her room, giggling, flirting with one of the guys she’s dating. She had to shut down her OK Cupid because she was getting inundated. Now just concentrating on the handful of guys she found intriguing. I check my Tinder and OK Cupid profiles and tumbleweeds spill out of my Droid on the couch. Ah well. I don’t blame ’em.
She goes racing through the living room all smiles. She yells goodbye as she grabs a whole loaf of bread and a jar of Nutella, so she can make her lunch at work. She’s leaving an hour early, though. Maybe she’s meeting a guy. Maybe just driving around to have a private phone conversation in the car. Who knows? Not my business.
I sit with my tumbleweeds and read about politics. I feel the fat bunch up around my belly as I sit up. The remote is near my feet, and when I try to reach for it lightning shoots across my right side.
I sit back. I keep reading Twitter. “I’ll try some sit-ups tomorrow,” I tell myself. “Then everything is going to finally work out OK.”