The houses in Richmond line the street like scoops of rich people's sorbet. Lavender and Cream. Sweet Cilantro. Morning Citrus. Raspberry Rose. In the summer, each has its own color-coordinated hydrangeas. Husband lived here once. He showed me his apartments, tucked in corners of these mansions turned apartments. In one he slept in the pantry. Really. A pantry with a bathroom. But, the rent was affordable.
For him, it was a melancholy nostalgic walk around the city. It's a cool place to live. We'd love to be here, a cute apartment, walking to get groceries, reading on the balcony. I wouldn't want to go to the laundromat. Could our fantasy include a washer and dryer?
We weaved in and out of alleyways, by adorable miniature restaurants designed for take out but not a big crowed. We walked back on the big boulevard. It was hot. I took off my sweater and walked around in my tank top. It isn't sleazy, this tank top: loose with ruffles. It's my fanciest shirt. I wear the heavy metallic beads with it. A shiny pinkish purple. I bought them for my grandmother's funeral. Even though she never knew about them, somehow they have meshed their weight on my ears and neck with my love for her.
It was July. Not a Texas July, but a cloudy Virginia one. It wasn't miserably hot, but just enough to allow a drop of sweat to run down my back. So, I took off my little sweater and walked down the street.
It was the first time.
Other than the pool. But that doesn't count. That afternoon in Richmond was the first time I've walked in public without sleeves. I felt beautiful. The earrings. The necklace. A great hair day (it's growing out and is bouncy and soft). My cute ruffled shirt. I had my camera with me which, I'd like to imagine, gives an artistic look to my appearance.
So, I held my head high and am sure not one person noticed. It felt good. To release my arms into the great wide world. These arms my niece loves and I hate.
To be fair, they aren't pretty. They aren't just big - they are flabby. Billows of fat. I'm not exaggerating and I'm not being funny. And I'm not rooting around for compliments. If I saw someone else walking around with them showing, I would judge them. Feel pity. Look down upon them aghast. How dare you.
Sigh... this is my issue isn't it? Not that I care so much about my arms or the gluttony and laziness which have created them, but about what people think about them.
When I got home I passed by the mirror and my eyes focused on these arms. I felt ashamed that I had bared them. And ashamed for feeling ashamed.
I know the right things I need to say to me. I know what you would say to me. The sermon at church that morning was on it. But, I can't just yet turn the knowledge into belief.
I wonder if I will on this side of heaven. But if not, when I get to eternity, I'm hoping that the white robe Jesus has earned for me will be missing it's sleeves.