Meet my Best Friend and my own True Love. She is someone (or something) that has been with me from the moment of my conception and will continue with me until dust do us part. She is less than a heartbeat away and nearer than the breath that joins us. She has been there during every single experience, both conscious and unconscious, and she lets me know the instant anything goes wrong (when a finger gets too close to the fire or a toe meets a table leg, or my mind is conjuring up a terrifying nightmare).
She began minuscule and has progressed to what a normal sized human female should look like, and soon –if not already- she will begin the opposite process until once more becoming minuscule and disappearing. I know that you’ve guessed by now that I am talking about My Body. Hmmm, is it mine? Perhaps, in the sense that a rented car is ‘mine’ as long as I have the use of it and then goes back to being agency property when I am through. Therefore, it is my ‘Best Friend and own True Love’ on loan.
I have not always been friendly with My Body; as a matter of fact I have treated her downright awfully more times than I please to remember. I hated her when I was a little girl around 6 or 7 because she wouldn’t obey anyone: not me, not my mother, not my father and not even the doctor or the camp counsellor. Every night I would order her to stay dry till morning and every night she would wake me with a chilly puddle of pee under my bottom. I was six years old, for heaven’s sake! I hadn’t used diapers for years and suddenly I couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s house without her mother being told I would need a rubber sheet on my bed. It was humiliating! And there was nothing I could do about it. My Body had decided –for a reason that will always remain a mystery- to begin wetting the bed again and it seemed that nothing would make her stop. She wet the beds in all her friends’ houses; she wet the bed in summer camp (and was made to wash her own sheets); she wet the beds in every hotel she stayed in and even in her grandmother’s house when we slept over. My Body turned 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 and continued wetting the bed. We moved to Mexico and turned 11 and she still insisted on emptying her bladder as soon as deep sleep moved in.
And then the miracle happened: my mother found a doctor (more like a sadistic torturer, than a man of the medical profession) who said he could cure My Body of its insane obsession. He handed my mother a small square pad (about15ins x 15ins) crisscrossed with wires and connected to an alarm clock that would wake the dead, and a set of instructions of how to plug the whole thing into the lights in the room. That night My Body was introduced to its executioner. Of course, by that time she had been peeing in bed almost every night for about 5 years and I didn’t think there was anything that could stop her. We were both in for a surprise.
At the first DROP of urine, the wired pad went into action: it gave My Body an electric shock that sprang her out of sleep and convinced her that if she continued in that direction she would be electrocuted; it set off the alarm that woke my parents in another bedroom and probably the neighbors, and all the lights in the room went on.
Needless to say, that happened twice and the problem was solved. My Body was headstrong but not stupid.
However, five years at the mercy of My Body’s shameless behavior had taught me not only a total mistrust of the traitor, but also that I was completely powerless over her: she was going to do what she was going to do whether I liked it or not. That meant future endless torture especially in my teen years: an oversized bottom half with an undersized top endowment; pimples always in very visible places and right when there was a big dance or party to be attended; a frame made for a taller woman thanks to one leg that insisted on growing faster and had to be stopped; a nose that in boarding school earned me the nickname of Dome; a mother that was to me the most beautiful and perfect woman ever created; and a grandmother that said “round eyes, round nose, round face” every time she looked at me and, when I was 18, suggested I have my nose fixed (by that time I was arrogant enough to respond: “It gives me personality” and not do it).
Somewhere along that narrow and unblessed path, I convinced myself that I was not and never would be pretty, so I decided to be intelligent instead. Anyone who has read this blog knows where that led me and I am not going into it again!
So I grew up, got married and had children all the time thinking My Body was so far from attractive that she didn’t even deserve to have her pictures in the family albums; instead they went into a drawer where they stayed for as long as I was married, and during all the time my children were growing up and getting married themselves. It wasn’t until after my divorce, when I was living alone, that I discovered all those pictures from so long ago, and began to see just how attractive that Body had been before. It was then that I realized that if I didn’t start appreciating the beauty that she did have, instead of thinking she should have a different kind of beauty, more like her mother’s for instance, I would some day in the future look back and realize how attractive I had been at that moment. It was then I knew that I had to accept My Body for what it was and make the best of it.
That was the day all the photographs of My Body, from my teens up until the moment I had divorced, came out of the drawer. I taped them up all over my dressing-room doors and walls and under each photograph I put a quality I wanted to believe that Body had represented at some moment: friendliness, generosity, patience (very little), helpfulness, honesty, kindness, etc. And every day I would stand in my dressing-room contemplating the pictures of My Body and finding her more and more acceptable. I did not, however, love her.
It was Salomé who taught me that. I loved my little dog from the very start. It didn`t matter if she was clean or dirty, perfumed or smelling doggy, asleep or awake, interested or bored… I adored her; I loved every inch of her hairy little body, each perky ear, her black little nose and her white whiskers, and I could gaze forever into her deep black eyes. And then one day while I was cuddling her (against her will, mind you, she hates to be cuddled) I suddenly found myself wondering why I didn’t treat My Body at least half as lovingly as I treated my dog’s body. How could I love her body and not mine, when her body never even looked for mine unless she wanted something, and mine had been at my beck and call every second of every day since the beginning of my time? I understood the injustice I had committed and I looked down at My Body for the first time with tenderness, the same kind of tenderness that Salomé’s body had awakened in me.
Suddenly I felt such gratitude to have a Body that had taken such a beating and still was healthy; a Body that never had any trouble sleeping, that had cooperated and lost weight under the strenuous diets I had subjected it too (gaining it back, of course, because I would then feed it all the stuff it didn’t need), a Body that needed so little medicine to be able to count the times I had taken aspirin… in other words a FANTASTIC Body! A Body worth living for, a Body worth loving.
So today, as I work on my 74th year, and My Body produces the normal aches and pains from use, I understand her, I treat her with love and respect, I give her the exercise she needs, the rest she needs, the love and fun she needs and, occasionally, the ice-cream she doesn’t need. And every time there is something new, an umpteenth wrinkle, a new ache, an uninvited roll around the waist, another vein that shows blue on the legs, a painful cramp in my toes, I think of Salomé and ask myself: Would I stop loving my little dog just because she was getting old? And such a wave of tenderness flows over me that I smile and hug My Body, and tell her that she’s doing fine, that we’re doing just fine.
And, now, seeing as the evening has drawn to a close, and my True Love is feeling a bit fatigued, and Salomé is already in her bed happily snoring away, I think I’ll end this contemplation here, and trot off to bed with my own Body. What a delight it is to sleep every night in the arms of my one True Love and Dear Friend who will be with me forever and ever, till dust do us part.
(The Featured Image: is taken com the Blog of Shirley Maya: shirleymaya.com)