Strange things go through your head as you are walking along in Italy trying not to get mugged. Is it wrong that I acknowledge the workmen’s whistles, turning around to see them gesture, most likely inappropriately but I don’t speak Italian body language, I turn back, shaking my head, but smiling knowing they are watching my swagger, confident that I am the most desirable pasty faced Irish American to walk by the last minute and a half. But in my mind, I am a siren. Sometimes it’s those little moments of pleasure we have to accept and savor; the twenty something who takes just a moment to check out your chest…and then returns to your eyes before calling you Ma’am. Ok, maybe that one wasn’t quite as good but the blue eyed guest who connects with your eyes and for whatever reason makes you lose your words…just for a moment…that one was good. Or the guest artist who gets so flustered when you’re around that he blurts out, “I think I’m a little bit in love with you,” after your second meeting. Am I a terrible person for enjoying these little tributes to my greatness? No. None of us are. Sometimes we have to fill in the blanks ourselves, remind ourselves of all the cool things that make us the rock stars that we are and sometimes we just have to open our eyes and see it for ourselves. I once read an article in O Magazine (don’t judge me, I was at the hair dresser) about ten women interviewed who each named a feature they liked about themselves, one liked her strong shoulders, another, her brown eyes, etc. The title of the story was something like “Changing Body Image” or some such. And as I pondered this tripe, I was struck by two thoughts. One, how sad is it we as women, need to find one good thing about ourselves to change our circus mirror body images and two, I have way more than one thing that I like about myself. I started mentally ticking off the amazing features that made me me, things that perhaps no one but me would even appreciate. I love my eyes because they are blue like my Dad’s, the only one of us who inherited that, I like my tiny feet because they were not the claw feet of a dancer, I liked that my shoulders were broad and strong, that my round little face looks good in any wig and my pale skin good in any jewel tone-who wants to wear pastels anyway? I left the salon with a fab new haircut, a new lease on life and a mission. I wanted everyone around me, ok, I wanted every woman around me to feel as amazing as I did; the men were on their own.
I bring this up now because I kind of forgot about that list until recently when it was brought to my attention, the torture we women put each other through with the constant critical comparisons, forever fishing for compliments while highlighting our least favorite attributes. I realized as I walked along that I had started quite a lengthy mental checklist of all the things I once again liked about myself, the things that had gone away during my brief hiatus from mental health. And the more I embrace those traits, the more appealing I become. There are those people you meet who are inherently, classically, undeniably beautiful…and then there are the rest of us. But I know as I strolled along, conversing silently with myself about my coolness factor, basically laying out my good and bad to my imaginary companion; my obsession with food, my outrage at not being grandfathered as average height when they changed the standards (I still maintain 5.4 should be average height for anyone born before 1985), my complete inability to stay sane in any kind of relationship and burning desire to meet someone, fall in love, marry, have children and grow old together absent of the knowledge that I’m in a relationship, even my complete defiance of gravity by being able to flip completely vertical without the aid of a sports bra…take that Victoria’s Secret!; all the cool, silly, neurotic and unique things that make me special, I realized that it didn’t matter if I was growing more beautiful to others. I was growing more beautiful to myself. Actually I was suddenly beautiful with no input from anyone. Not a huge revelation, I know, but for me, and probably for so many others who feel they walk through the world making no impact, effecting nothing and going completely unnoticed, it was tantamount to triumph. I was not only on a date with myself, but entirely smitten again. My husband has noticed it. He told me he just realized how much my friendship means to him, especially now, said I’m the tops and called me "Doll". My co-workers have noticed it. The construction workers noticed it…well, probably my *ss but I like to think it was my spirit first. The point is, my mission was to fall in love with this amazing person I kept hearing about, and suddenly, I get it. That amazing person is me. The person you have followed, read about, probably got annoyed with for a while but in the end, want to and never truly want to be.
The setting sun is reflecting off the blue-green ripples of the Mediterranean Sea casting a bright orange glow across the water and a pale pink haze which beautifully backlights Mt. Vesuvias. I feel the romance of this moment envelope me like the strong familiar arms of a good friend and I decide to take myself on a twilit walk around the deck. Standing in the glow of all this beauty I enjoy the vision of my hair lustrous and gleaming like a halo round my partially lit face. Who cares if the vision is real? There are no mirrors here. In this moment, I am magnificent. So where will you find your sunlit romance? F*** it, turn off your computer and go be a vision.
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