I’m in phase one of getting back into my jeans.
This means I can wear them for about fifteen minutes before getting in a bad mood about the way they have gotten tight in my upper thigh area. Which starts me thinking about whether or not all that sourdough bread was worth it.
It felt worth it in the moment.
I remind myself that when my jeans were looser, I wasn’t necessarily happier.
In fact, I felt about the same, except slightly hungrier. And that’s probably because of the basic happiness set-point theory. We all have our own particular level of happiness that stays more or less the same.
After about fifteen minutes in my skinny jeans, I fold them back up and slide into my lululemon “dance studio” pants that I have been wearing nearly every day. “Wear them when you need to dash from the studio” the tag read when I bought them, or something like that.
I remember because it gave me pause. I actually stood in the store holding the pants and briefly wondered if someone would know I was not wearing them as transport back and forth from dance. That, I have only ever taken one dance class and that was when I was five and the teacher made me the “helper.” And not in a good way.
I might have even flagged down the salesperson.
“What do people wear these for?”
As if it mattered.
But that was years ago and I’m older now. I’ve worn the pants everywhere but the studio. Because I’m actually a rebel, maybe.
I’m also in phase one of getting back into my daily diet. And I mean diet as a noun, not a verb. Meaning, I eat like a dog, but not literally like a dog. I eat the same basic food each day like one might wear a uniform. It’s been my most successful way yet of maintaining my weight. Which I should pause here and explain is no small feat. Because as a middle-aged woman who loves potato chips, I have tried every single weight control management system that exists.
I am an expert at eating and not eating.
And my daily dog diet is both pleasant and predictable. Like Mr. Rogers. He weighed himself every day to make sure he was staying at 143 pounds, the numerical equivalent of the words I love you. This was my major takeaway from the documentary about him.
I am only in phase one of weighing myself, however. Phase one means that I am tentatively planning on weighing myself in a couple of weeks. Maybe.
My family is in phase one of taking down the treehouse in the backyard. They would be farther along had I not run to the backyard screaming,
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
This is because two summers ago I moved up there to write. I wanted a room of my own. Not that I think I am any Virginia Woolf. But I did like the idea of writing in that library of trees. I hoisted up a table and chair by rope. I carried up my yoga mat. I even brought up paints because Grandma Moses started her painting career late in life, 78 to be exact. It’s never too late.
I’ve always liked channeling people for short periods of time. Like trying on different styles of clothes here and there. Just to see how they feel, see if there is a part of me I have been missing all this time that I should claim.
In my eighth grade English class I wanted to be like Thoreau. I imagined myself heading out to the forest to live.
But only in theory because of poison ivy.
I’ve never gotten the hang of identifying it and it must be because I don’t look closely enough. Which also makes me a hypocrite. Whenever my kids stand in front of the refrigerator, I yell at them.
“You know, the ketchup is not going to step forward and announce itself. You have to look.”
I’m so self-righteous at that moment. Because I forget about poison ivy.
The treehouse is perfect for writing for so many reasons. Things look small from up there, even problems. I’m way above the kitchen floor needing vacuuming. There is clarity to the mission.
I haven’t been in it much lately. This is probably why my bored adult children thought they could just take sledgehammers to it. But I was planning on going back. As soon as I had some time. They are defending themselves by claiming it has become unsafe.
“The floorboards are rotting away,” said my oldest, a total exaggeration.
I knew what I had to do. I had to move back there, up to the treehouse, even though it now had two missing walls. The walls with my painted inspirational quotes. “Continue under all circumstances.”
I’d be like Julia “Butterfly” Hill, the woman who saved Luna, the old Redwood Tree.
She sat there for over two years. I’d have to sit in the treehouse until my kids saw that I was serious. Or until they went back to their lives before this pandemic.
Out I went with my journal, up the wood rung steps. I brought my binoculars. Why have I stopped writing up here? I wrote. Why does it always take a deadline for me to get going on my dreams?
“Give me just a few more days,” I yelled down to my kids.
I’m only in phase one of saying goodbye.