Cultivated Confidence

Some time last summer I was lucky enough to be standing in a river. Mostly naked. Surrounded by friends. Holding a baby.

It was every great thing I’ve ever wanted and felt completely surreal.

These ladies had been in my life since the long days, tight bodies, and sweat pants of college. We couldn’t eat enough to keep up with our metabolisms. We ran hard and played harder and thought nothing of the quality of sustenance we consumed. Our bodies were, thank god, forgiving.

Not so much any more. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, our skin was just a little softer beneath the tight ties of string bikinis. We are fit, but fleshy. I think it’s safe to say that none of us is our own ideal, as we have not yet slipped far enough from youth to be used to these new curves. None of us wants our athletic legs to be any softer than they ever had been. But we are radiant and real. Not the immature limbs of teenage allstars, but the folds of cultivated confidence, the softer lines of life.

Damn we are beautiful.

Sun kissed and sweating. Cold ankles in a wild river. A stunningly chocolate child bouncing on my hip. Not mine, but the daughter of one of my girls is mine by proxy. Propped on the flesh of a love handle, cowboy hat in hand, and I was completely overcome by beauty and pride. I don’t when we slipped from childhood, but I felt it then for the first time ever, that we had ended up exactly as we hoped. That our bodies were perfectly ours and stunningly gorgeous.

But fast forward a few months and I’m curled on the couch on a crisp fall night. Everything feels tight under winter layers. I’m pasty. The soft folds suffocated under skinny jeans. The flesh just a little too floppy. Nothing has changed but the light in which I see.

It all feels a little more gross the gorgeous, is all. Like a body by which I have been abandoned, one that I have to fight to keep in check on a daily basis. And no matter how I try, it never seems to listen. Those supple curves in places only I can see don’t respond the way they used to. I’m frustrated by the flesh.

How did I get from there to here? From perceived beauty to exhausted frustration? What changed and where is right and am I vein enough to care?

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