“Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
There was a time when men were kind. And their voices were soft. And their words inviting. There was a time when the doctor prescribed Adderall. And the world was a song. And the song was exciting (as were most things when one is on Adderall). There was a time. Then it all went wrong.
Okay, okay, so I’m mad late with the whole “Les Miserables” movie craze – Was it a craze? I mean, I saw the movie three times, twice in the theater; saw the show once on Broadway; watched the 25th anniversary concert probably 10 times or so, and regularly sing the soundtrack in the shower, but “craze” is a strong word. – but haven’t we all felt like a starving, hairless, toothless, altogether desperate, 19th century French prostitute dying of consumption?
It can’t be just me. I can’t be the only one who thinks that “I Dreamed a Dream” accurately sums up all my internal, narcissistic misery. I thought that God would be forgiving! I was once young and unafraid! Some dick took my childhood in his stride. . . when I was 20. Tigers probably do come at night, which is why I don’t ever want to go to a jungle or to a poorly supervised overnight at a zoo! And life has officially killed every motherfucking dream I’ve dreamed. Also, can we all agree that yes, Anne Hathaway is very talented, but still REALLY easy to hate just because. . . everything? Okay, great, thanks.
So like the responsible adult I am, I went and had my taxes done. I’ve gone to the same woman for a few years except for the Turbo Tax Conundrum of ’08. I like her. She’s competent and knowledgeable and chatty and personable. It’s never a surprise to me that a great deal of my appointment is spent looking at pictures of her grandkids or exchanging recipes. She’s just that kind of person. On this visit, I must have made a comment about my weight and how it’s gross, a bad habit I’ve been using as a crutch when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while. I haven’t been quite this big in a few years, so I always try to jump the gun by saying something along the lines of “Hi ______! Great to see you! How’s things? Oh, that’s wonderful! Oh, me? Well, I gained a ton of weight, and I’m still single and childless! And get this, I’ve been living with my parents since September! Can you believe it?!? Can you?!? CAN YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!” It’s important to me that people know that I know what the hell I look like and that I am wholly aware that I probably didn’t look this way the last time I saw them. If they’re going to talk about me behind my back, it’s not going to be about how delusional or deep in denial I am. Well, not about my physical appearance anyway.
I made some comment about my weight and how I was going to start working out again and blah-blah-blah-I’m fat-blah-blah-blah, and then she mentions that she lost 38 pounds two years ago and everything was going great; she was on Weight Watchers and walking miles a day and then her daughter was killed in a car accident and she gained back 45 pounds and now she wants to die. She gasped “I hate myself!”, put her face in her hands and started to cry. I was flabbergasted, as she told me all of this pretty much exactly as I’ve written it here. I started to cry too. I probably shouldn’t mention this as I’m pretty sure that most of my readers are people who know me in real life and I don’t want anyone freaking out or being weird with me, but mention it I shall: I cried because of the obvious pain she was in from losing her child, of course. I also cried because it made me think of my own parents and how hurt they’d be if I decided to end it all, which is something I’ve kept in my back pocket as an option for years now. It’s my escape plan. I was going to do it if nothing improved by the time I hit 25, then I pushed it off to 30, and now I’ve realized that suicide is SUPER inconvenient for me for a ton of reasons not limited to my commitment to “Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta”, but I’ve got a 35-37 age range floating around in my twisted brain as a just-in-case. But seeing somebody’s parent weep in the middle of an H&R Block over the death of their child made me replace her face with my mom’s and I felt awful. I reached for her hand and held it for a while. She apologized; I asked her what for. She showed me pictures of her dead daughter’s child and husband and offered me some Pirate’s Booty. I declined.
After the appointment, I thought a lot about what had transpired between us. She shared quite a lot with me; her son-in-law is remarrying in a few months and she doesn’t know how she’s going to make it through the wedding. Her husband has never been more loving or thoughtful or romantic, even though she’s fat (her words); she’s going on her first vacation in years to see her best friend and they’ll spend every day on the beach. Because I am a narcissist, I thought a lot about myself too. I thought about the fact that if I died, that would be it for my parents. There would be nobody left. Neither of them have siblings; as I’ve mentioned over and over and over again, I have no children or husband. I was so sad for them. I wept, blasting Maxwell’s “Lifetime”, my go to “My life is OVAH!” song, through my car stereo as I drove around town, mourning my own death that hasn’t happened yet. And then I got angry.
I was angry that I couldn’t ever kill myself without causing irrevocable damage to my parents. I was angry that my only escape from a life plagued by depression and crippling loneliness was no longer, was never an option. I was angry that I’d let myself get fat and cut my hair, making me invisible and undateable. I was angry that my parents couldn’t have had just one other kid so all of this pressure to make them happy didn’t fall on my shoulders. I was angry that the nice H&R Block lady with the dead daughter hated her body, because I was pretty damn sure that mine was bigger than hers, and if hers makes her hate herself, what must she feel when she looks at me? I was angry that I was angry at the nice H&R Block lady with the dead daughter. I was angry that Maxwell won’t ever finish his blacksummer’snight trilogy. I was angry that I will always be alone and there isn’t any escaping it.
I went to the gym after driving around and crying. I’d made an appointment with a personal trainer because I’m serious about trying to make my body smaller and hopefully, healthier, and wanted to get going right away. When I got there, a disheveled, trembling man with long, greasy hair introduced himself as the man who’d be “training” me that day. He seemed familiar to me, but it wasn’t until I left that I realized who he made me think of:
The experience was pretty terrible. Uncle Rico wouldn’t make eye contact with me and I started to think he wasn’t physically capable, and I felt terrible that I was annoyed by what may have been outside of his control. He kept telling me that I had “great form” whilst he looked in the opposite direction as I pretended to use what was essentially an Ab Roller. Eventually, I told him that I was pretty sure I could figure out the rest of the equipment myself and that I’d like to do some cardio. I thanked him for his “help”, shook his hand, and sprinted to the nearest treadmill.
I hadn’t paid any attention to which treadmill I picked. I was overcome with anxiety and just wanted to get away from the weight area and the stares of the South American men in street clothes lounging on the benches. It took me a few moments to realize that I’d chosen a treadmill directly in front of a mirror. I stared at myself as I attempted to walk/jog for the first time in probably two years, and I didn’t like what I saw. I was the heaviest person in the gym. I was the only person there alone, except for maybe Uncle Rico, but he worked there. All around me were families, couples, and friends, yelling over the noise of the machines in Spanish and Portuguese while I huffed and puffed alone. Between the heartbreaking experience of filing my taxes and the seemingly futile exercise of. . . exercise, I lost it. I cried as I walk/jogged for 20 minutes in the middle of a downtown YMCA. It was probably the only time I’ve been thankful to be fat and out of shape; I was sweating so much from my forehead that it was impossible to tell that I was weeping. The expression on my face is always that miserable.
I went home and soaked in an Epsom salt bath because I read on some skinny idiot’s blog that it’s supposed to pull all of the toxins out of my body that are making me fat and depressed. I avoided my parents because I was still angry at them for keeping me alive against my will and for not being able to give me the baby brother or bitch older sister of my dreams. I spent the rest of the night lurking on Instagram and Tumblr, making myself feel absolutely worse as I watched the evidence of the greatness of the lives of everyone else scroll by.
I will go back to H&R Block next year. I will go back to the nice lady with the dead daughter. I will try to remember to not mention my body, though I hope that next year’s version of Ambrosia will be streamlined and pocket-sized and I won’t have to. I hope that the nice lady will find happiness and peace by this time next year, even if her grief is still sitting in the back of her throat just waiting to be let out. As for me, I guess I’d like to find happiness and peace too. And a different escape plan.