I walk alone down memory lane to the water’s edge, I let my tears fall, melting into the sea below, never to return to me. Alone in grief I remember – remember childhood, remember days I wish were forgotten….but to forget them is to forget you. And although the pain is unbearable, almost as unbearable as this grief, I ache to remember it all – the pain, the tears…. because mixed in those moments of time were small moments of love – although twisted and strange, it was there. I grasp to hold on to those moments because I need to let go. It’s strange to imagine needing to hold on to something to let go…. but, it’s like our relationship always was – never quite normal or predictable. I know you must have loved me in your own way, but your love only hurt me, pushing me away. Now that you’re gone I sit in silent solace, left to dry my own tears, as I did so often while you were alive. I search for the closure I thought your passing would bring, but instead I’m left with a deepening hollow inside me that grows with every passing second. I’ll never understand you – I’ll never understand why – all I can do is wave my hand and say goodbye. Goodbye to my childhood, goodbye to the past, goodbye to the moments we never truly had. And now I must leave you down on memory lane – a path now dark and lonely, scattered with forgotten moments of a little girl’s dreams. I hope to find closure as I let you go, for this path I journey I cannot look back, for if I do, I may crack.
Let’s talk about boobies, shall we? I know, I know, it’s a delicate subject. You can try to push it down, stuff it down, or try to hide it. I’m talking about your feelings on the matter not your actual breasts, although some of us have tried to push, stuff, or hide them! I developed an unhealthy relationship with mine that started the day my innocent ten-year-old self stumbled upon a Playboy magazine lying on the ground in a spot in the woods. I was with my brother and a couple of his friends. They were all over that magazine. I heard them say things like, “Oh wow!” “Oooohhh, look at those!” “Let me see, your ugly head is in the way!” as they pushed each other around laughing like the idiots they were. I began to get curious. I wanted to take a peek, see what the fuss was about…. so I pushed my way in and took a peek. What I saw changed my life forever.
I never claimed to be the brightest child and after I tell you this story I’m sure you’ll agree. I used to watch beauty pageants with my mom. We did this as long as I can remember. We’d make some snacks and watch Miss America on the television in my parents’ bedroom. My dad and brother were downstairs – they wouldn’t be caught watching girly stuff. This was mommy and daughter time and I loved it. We would watch as all the pretty ladies floated around the stage in their beautiful gowns. I couldn’t help but notice their breasts – the way they came together in the middle. I didn’t know what cleavage was then. I thought when I grew up and got breasts they would grow together. As I got older I would try to push mine together wondering when they would start their journey inward and upward – like the girls in those pageants. Now here I was in the woods with a bunch of boys looking at this magazine with naked ladies. “They don’t grow together?!…… Oh, they don’t grow together!!!” In that moment I realized I knew nothing about the body I would soon develop. This newfound revelation only confused me more and the years to follow proved that.
I use to talk to my boobies when I was twelve. My logic was – if you can talk to plants and they grow than breasts must do the same. I came to realize my girls were deaf. I took it hard, really hard. After three solid weeks of talking to them nothing happened. No overnight miracle grow here. I tried to think of ways to get them to grow. My friend across the street already had a nice rack and here I was flat as a board. As we sat outside playing with barbies I asked her, “How did you get your breasts to grow?” She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. “I eat a lot of peanut butter. Oh, and I sleep on my side.” “I sleep on my stomach,” I said, as I continued to fishtail “Totally Hair” barbie’s hair. Well, that’s it,” she said. “Sleep on your side.” “She was right,” I thought to myself. I was suffocating them. No wonder they wouldn’t grow. That night I started sleeping on my side. I was sure in a few weeks I would have glorious breasts. A few weeks passed and still no breasts. The frustrations mounted (no pun intended), why couldn’t I catch a breast… I mean break!
I had other issues at twelve. I still had baby fat and had not hit my growth spurt. I was an ugly duckling and in my mind having breasts would fix that. Oh, how little we knew at that age. When I was fifteen I was tall and thin. Turn me sideways and I was gone. I had a friend who would visit her dad in the summer and spend a lot of time at my house. She had the biggest breasts I had ever seen! She was proud of them too. When we went to youth functions she would flirt with all the boys telling them that if she flashed them they would faint. I would follow-up with, “If I flashed you guys you’d fall over too… from laughter.” I began to realize God was playing a sick joke on me by giving me friends with huge breasts just to annoy me. I was sure God had forgotten to pack my breasts in the suitcase of life I was given. I come from an Italian heritage and I was waiting on those Sophia Loren breasts. I wanted what was due to me – big Italian breasts. Wrap a bow around them and deliver them to my front doorstep please. As I started to outgrow my teen years I began to deal with it. They weren’t growing – end of story. I even started joking about it saying how I got my mom’s nose and my dad’s boobs. Soon all the drama of adolescence disappeared into everyday life. My breasts were no longer that big of a deal. Big or small, I was still me. My mom told me not to worry; they would grow, as I got older. She told me our bodies continually change as women. We get fuller, curvier. I rolled my eyes then, but she was right.
Now as I sit here typing this I realize I still think about my breasts a lot… but now for totally different reasons. My mother passed away from breast cancer in 2009. Suddenly all those years of wanting breasts disappeared. Suddenly, I hated my breasts and was scared of them at the same time. The very thing I wanted so badly is the exact thing that took my mom away. It took me years to become friends with my breasts and now they were my enemy. Somehow, that little black dress I was finally able to fill out meant nothing. I went through a lot of emotions when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was sure it couldn’t really kill her. I was in denial all the way up until the disease took her life. The following months and years since her death I still find myself constantly checking for lumps. My doctor told me my risk of getting breast cancer is only slightly higher, as there is no previous history of it in our family, and because my mom was over 50 when she was diagnosed (she was 52). My doctor still recommends I start getting mammograms at the age of 35 as a precautionary measure (I am 32). I am constantly giving myself breast exams and checking for lumps. Ironically, I’m one of those women who have lumpy breasts – the correct term would be fibrocystic breasts. Basically, it’s like I’m carrying a sack of marbles in each breast. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but some days it feels like it! It makes it harder to do breast exams, but I just really have to know my breasts and pay attention to any changes that seem out of the normal scope for me. They told me cutting back on my caffeine intake would help with some of the lumpiness, but no matter what I just have lumpy breasts. Really? Well, if I am still going to have marble sack boobs whether or not I cut my caffeine intake then I guess I will have my triple latte thank you very much. In all seriousness though, I am now more concerned about my breast health than how they look in a swimsuit. After my mom’s diagnosis my outlook changed. All the trivial nonsense I had about my breasts in the past was now gone. I now carry myself with the confidence of a woman who knows who she is (the breasts just come along with the package). My breasts don’t define me; they don’t make me sexier. These breasts are mine and I have learned to love them. It was a long journey to get here, but I am no longer concerned with the vanity of it. We have become bosom buddies – my breasts and me. And one day when they start to sag or get lost somewhere behind my armpits, none of that will matter, as long as they’re healthy…. as long as I’m healthy and enjoying this amazing journey called life.
I consider myself a healthy person. I watch my sodium intake, fat intake, sugar intake, etc. I am one of the lucky ones who actually enjoy healthy food. I reach for fruit or vegetables over chips. I’d rather have a salad made with spinach, tomato, feta, cucumbers, kalamata olives and avocado than a slice of pizza. But try as I might I am just not athletic. I might even be the most athletically challenged person on the planet! Even as a child I was the one yelling, “Wait up!” because I couldn’t keep up with these speedy Gonazalez’s as they ran ahead of me to play at the playground. The playground in itself presented a challenge for me – the monkey bars. They were my Achilles heel (don’t get me started on my Achilles. I pulled that thing a good half a dozen times trying to run as fast as my little friends). Try as I may, I would grab on to that first bar….and that’s it – I would just hang there…Well, to everyone watching it would appear that way, but inside my head I was willing my arm to move to the next rung (it just wasn’t happening) and then I’d finally fall to the ground. This all occurred within thirty seconds. Thirty seconds of pure torture, but I was a determined little thing. At the time, I would have sworn to you I was hanging there for minutes, but I would have been lying. I’d rather you know the sad pathetic truth.
Just last week my friend Fife was telling me about this quick workout routine – You do five exercises (a set of 20 per exercise) 5x a week for the first week – then increasing each week 20 more until you reach 100. Now knowing me I was sure I would die before I could do 100, but I was sure I could do 20 each of 5 exercises. I mean, come on, that’s like a 5-minute workout! I could do this! Day one: I do my first exercise – 20 jumping jacks and I’m feeling good. Now on to the burpees – 1 burpee, 2 burpees, 3 burpees…….4 burpees…..ehhhh…..5 burpees…..good Lord……6 burpees…….help me, Jesus…..wait, how many am I up to now?…..9 burpees?….And I was down for the count, breathing so heavy I was sure my neighbors thought I was shooting a low budget porno in my apartment (hey, this is the valley and it’s conceivable). So, I’m lying there with my dog Kota peering over my heaving body until her cold nose touches my cheek – nudging it. Even she can’t believe how pathetic I am! Even she was trying to push me to get up! There must be a name for my condition – Patheticism? Wimpy Sad Sack Disorder?
I know you are reading this and thinking – “She must be exaggerating,” but I’m not and I’ll prove it to you. I like nature. I enjoy being outdoors, so I enjoy a hike at the Fryman (keeping in mind I try to walk fast/jog when I’m there). For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Fryman, you go up some very steep inclines at times and my body convulses at the mere thought of inclines. Level surfaces are my body’s friend, anything else my body rejects like poison. As I begin my hike I immediately start going uphill and it’s a steady incline for about half a mile or so. Within the first minute and a half I am trying to look chill as other people jog past me, or power walk with their tight little tushies…. By this time my heart is beating like a conga drum exploding into my ears. Now I am up to minute 4 of my hike and I have thrown out my pride as I let my shoulders slump and I begin to huff and puff loudly. Regardless, I am feeling good as I continue my climb. Inwardly I am congratulating myself – giving myself the “You are rocking this Christal,” speech when an older gentleman with a cane passes me. A man with a cane! True story. Talk about an ego deflator.
So try as I might I am destined to remain a mushy pool of jello, instead of a hardcore babe. I will continue to workout because I want to be fit and healthy. And to the average onlooker I will appear to be dedicated (like I’ve been working out for an hour when in actuality its only been 5 minutes). My problem is that I concentrate so hard on getting through the workout that I forget to breathe. This realization hits me when I start hearing myself breathing in my ears and I feel I’m about to pass out. This usually happens about 5-10 minutes into a workout and I have to tell myself, “Just breathe dammit!” Still, I refuse to be a wimpy sad sack. I will continue my slow uphill battle to become one of those sassy little tight tushy power walkers. I just have to learn to breathe…. And maybe one day I will be able to do all 20 burpees.