…to feel warm sand between my toes. Of course, the last time I’d enjoyed a sun holiday was when my children were very young. Fast forward through recession, divorce and financial ruin and it had been almost twenty years. And now I weighed in at almost 26 stone. I may well have lost a few pounds, pun pun, along the way but I had bulked up on my weight. My obese body was a bulwark again the world, that horrible shivering miserable mess that lay in wait for me. With food there was no answering back, no reproachful looks, no tearful conversations. Just plain satisfaction and I could call the shots.
Of course, while it was wonderful to feel the sand between my toes, I could not see them. My large breasts and rolling belly obscured all views of what might lie below. Unless I sat well back in the sun lounge and pushed my toes out, only then could I see the tips of my fat toes and feet. ‘Oh hello toes’ I said. ‘Enjoying the sun and the sand?’
The other problem with being obese was burning. There was more skin than ever, skin stretched tight over mountainous rolls and all of it very pink and vulnerable. I wore large tops but I also stayed under the umbrella, so the only part of me in the sun was my feet – as I edged them outside the protection of the umbrella, just for a moment to feel the sun, before pulling them in again. The sand was warm regardless.
I had traveled with Roger. A patient man, a man who enjoyed my company and to a degree my size. I was never quite sure if he found the mark but he enjoyed himself amongst my folds. It is said that as god made them, he matched them. Husband number one was less than my match but Roger more than made up for my skinny years.
They say in every fat person there is a skinny person trying to escape. I totally disagree. There is no skinny person inside of me, not any more. I regret that stick thin freak, all bone and sinew and muscle. I worked so hard to maintain my skinny figure and it gained me naught. Letting go was the most liberating feeling ever. With every cake, hot dog and takeaway I ate I could feel the pounds pile on and the happiness grow.
Of course, my grown up boys find it strange. All their young years I was the skinny naggy whiny mother who watched them eat but pushed her own food around the plate. I have replaced sarcasm with kindness and forced enjoyment with genuine pleasure. In this size obsessed world, I know they are embarrassed at my voluptuousness, well obesity if I am honest, but they like me more now. I don’t shout – how can I, my mouth is too often full of food! I don’t give out now – who am I to comment on how they lead their lives. And while they tolerate Roger, who is kind, I can send blushes of the deepest red to their faces if I mention our sex. Though why is it more embarrassing to think of their overweight mother doing it with Roger than to think of their father with his skinny wife number two, I don’t know.
I’d almost forgotten many things before I met Roger. He is a slim man and slightly shorter than me too. I am bigger than him lying down and standing up. He does not shout, or complain or give out or talk out. He is gentle but I worry sometimes if he is strong enough. If I fell, would he be able to heft me up? If I rolled over on him at night, might I suffocate him? This holiday is a real triumph of faith over fat. From squeezing into the airplane and walking up and down those rickety airline steps, to finding a swimsuit to fit (we didn’t) but I was not sure I wanted to swim anyway. I have threatened to go skinny dipping instead to the huge embarrassment of my boys and the side splitting laughter of Roger. I may yet, when it is cooler, remove my tent-like top and skirt, and descend majestically, as a large ship moves with grace, and sail down the beach and into the water. If I tried this at dusk, no one would see me but Roger. It is early in the season and guests are rare on the beach.
I’d almost forgotten what it was like to feel the sand between my toes, but I’d never known what it was like to swim naked in the sea. Ah, there is a first time for everything, even for me.
© Jillian Godsil 2012