One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ah, Youth

I had hoped to lose my baby pounds before we headed off to Germany to visit Joerg's friends and family for the first time since Annika came into our lives with all her beauty, joy, and drama. I have finally realized that this is not going to happen, so I went out today and bought two pairs of pants that actually fit me (and do not involve elastic) to prepare myself psychologically to meet people who last saw me 35 pounds ago. Of course, the 35 pounds is not the whole story. There is also the 20 pounds I gained when I quit smoking with my lupus diagnosis 8 years ago (and which was mild enough to go into complete remission with a few years of drugs and lifestyle changes and so is a non-issue nowadays). And then there were the 15 hospital pounds that seems to come to all long-term hospital stay caregivers. There is no more sedentary lifestyle than that of the hospital parent, plus CMH in Chicago has the most glorious, huge chocolate chip cookies in the world--source of much blissful escapism on bad days. Joerg, lucky bastard, actually resumed smoking to deal with the stress of those days, but breastfeeding mommy did not have that option. Especially not breastfeeding mommy to a little girl with a fragile liver and generally precarious health. All those gains are all looking pretty big, now that I see them there in front of me, but I'm sticking with the assertion that I'm only 35 pounds above where I actually think of myself. I mean, who really goes back to 115 pounds after having two kids and passing 30? That's just crazy. Anyway, on the way home I began reminiscing about the way I used to dress, which was 100% thrift store chic. Heavy on the thrift store and light on the chic. Let's just say that I was not afraid of color. All of which reminded me of my very favorite sartorial compliment I have ever received. When I was a senior in college I got a job as a preceptor for a teaching tour of Kenya. I had written an independent study on African philosophy and literature (huge category, I know, but that's what those undergraduate independent studies are for, right?), and also had some experience in travelling off the beaten path, and thus stumbled into the best job, ever. The semester before we were to leave, I made friends with a Kenyan exchange student, who gave me a few pointers on the upcoming trip. One day in Wal-mart, I spotted this shirt--polyester, I think, although it felt like the cheap silk some pajamas are made of--which was covered in some sort of farmer's market theme. Vegetables, fruits, hand-lettered signs. It was one BUSY piece of business. But it was only $2 (I wonder why?) and I knew I could make it work. In fact, I had been looking for something to wear over my super-comfortable black leggings, which I could not wear without a very large shirt to cover my thighs. Remember, I was a whopping 115 pounds at that time. I wore that shirt, with leggings, on the day we loaded the bus to head to the airport. My Kenyan friend was there to see us off. He took one look at me, up and down, gave me a huge smile and said, "They are going to love you over there!" I bought lots of stuff on that trip, even bartering my tennis shoes for some soapstone statues I liked, but the stuff I loved the most was the fabric. It was cotton, with sayings written in Swahili at the bottom that said things like, "Step off, now! We both know you're not all that." And I actually wore that fabric when I returned, wrapped around me in all sorts of creative fashions that I had learned there. So that's where my mind wandered as I returned home with my shopping bag, Khaki pants inside. That's where I am now. But, Annika and Frankie, I want you girls to know that your mama was once a Kanga-wearing woman.

8 Comments:

Blogger jo(e) said...

I had a roommate in college who was from Kenya and I used to borrow her kangas all the time, especially at the end of spring semester when the weather got warm. Wearing a kanga when it is hot out is so comfortable ....I had forgotten all about that until I read your post.

3/24/2005 9:30 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

I have gone through a period of confronting friends after a weight gain also...and the metamorphosis it has done to my wardrobe. I had the most ecclectic style going, I loved to shop in the children's sections, you can find the most surprising things there, and for cheaper too! But after 3 back surgeries and a year and a half of a kind of immobile lifestyle, I find my body quite changed. I don't know if I'll ever get it back to where it was, I don't know if I really want to, but it always makes me think before I see people I haven't seen in a while.

Of course, I can say for a lot of women, even childless women, that we would love to have your "weight" problems!

3/25/2005 12:00 AM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Jay, You are right that I don't have serious weight problems, although I am technically in the category "overweight" (but not even close to obese). Really, I guess this was more a little bemoaning the loss of that youthful person, but perhaps a post about clothes was not the best vehicle for it. Your Gap for God post was a better approach.
jo(e), Kangas really are a great thing. And a whole art form in themselves. I should not have made light of the Swahili sayings written on them--they are their own little gems.

3/25/2005 11:47 AM  
Blogger PPB said...

The only things that should weigh 115 pounds are big dogs.
Still have the kangas?

3/25/2005 6:55 PM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Yes, I do still have the Kangas. Since I'm not likely to be wearing them again, I'm thinking of making them into wall art.

I know, 115 sounds so insane to me now. I think I like a little less angularity to my frame at this point.

3/25/2005 9:55 PM  
Blogger trisha said...

Oh, I hear you, sister. I weighed 117 before becoming pg. And then I gained 80 while pg. Am finally back w/in 12 pounds of pre-pg weight, but it took 4 years of breastfeeding, giving up sugar, buying a treadmill and not eating wheat or white flour.

I am over wanting to weigh under 120 ever again. I am 35.

3/26/2005 11:55 AM  
Blogger angela marie said...

Even when you are ok with your weight, it feels odd to see people who knew you only at a slimmer self.

Ah, well. You know you are good and you'll have a great time showing them!

3/26/2005 12:16 PM  
Anonymous sue said...

Remember time has passed for them as well. If it is not weight its gray hair or wrinkles!

3/26/2005 10:05 PM  

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