I’ve never separated “who I am” from my body.
I hadn’t thought to think of my body as storage. For a heart, some lungs, and a spleen. It lugs things, gets calloused, and goose bumps. And colds. My body has been slapped and threatened with a wooden spoon to the count of three. It has tread water beneath a canoe and has danced across a stage as I sang. It has done side bends and sit-ups to Sir Mix A Lot, has had fractured bones, and infected lymph nodes.
I’ve never had the thought to consider my body as something other, foreign, as if it has its own name. But when I am able to, it’s extraordinarily freeing. It’s bumped its head, and really hurt its nose, when I decided to dive off a starting block, as if I were diving into deeper waters than 3′. It has dolphin kicked its way to the middle of a lake, has sprinted, and won out, doing the most stomach crunches of my entire grade. It has housed two lives. There’s a pink gummy scar to prove it. That body was knifed open. It’s been infested with lice (when I refused to shower after my babysitter made me look like Bo Derek when I was eight). It has curled into fetal position, and slept in a room with too many strangers on a train in Europe. It has gone decent stretches without being washed. It has done cartwheels, hung on for me from the top of the monkey bars, and has hidden beneath blankets and a boardwalk.
When I view it as a vehicle, I’m less hurt by it. I don’t take it as personally that I look this way. You can almost make peace with how you look. You’ve been through a lot, you’ll be through a lot more. You are just a carrier, baggage really, for what’s inside, for what matters, for what people remember you for. I want to stick around, so I’ll try to keep us both happy. I’ll eat and love and live with gusto, full force, and in return, to help you out a little, I’ll exercise once in a while. I won’t eat too much red meat. I will try not to get diabetes on you. I will walk and keep up with my children to keep us both happy. When I look at it that way, it seems only fair.