In college when I would meet a potential friend I would secretly sum her up by placing her on an attractiveness continuum. The important factor in my calculation was her closeness to or distance from my own weight-to-height-ratio. If someone was too thin or too tall I'd think: she'll never be friends with me.
So if I were to just meet you in 2001, it would be a compliment to hear me say: "I don't know if we can be friends; you're so skinny."
It's been a long time since I judged someone's potential friendship based on their BMI. Since growing up and having children I've learned a few things. One is that most women's weight is genetic, beyond their control, and has very little to do with any objective measure of success or sanity. Skinny women can be failed, crazy, and unpopular. And beyond that, failure, insanity and not fitting in don't carry the same punch as they did before I experienced all those things.
I get now that "You're so skinny" might not automatically be a compliment. I get now that it's a rather personal and rude thing to say.
This is not to imply that I'm so very enlightened. It's just that in the past ten years I seem to have switched hang-ups. Because the other day I told a friend something to the effect of, "I don't know if you can like me because you're house is so much cleaner than mine."
And my friend appropriately took me aside and said something like, "What's this bullshit about comparing houses, Leah? WTF?"
Indeed, what is this bullshit about? I may look so post-vanity with my no-makeup thing and my dreadlocks thing. But the truth just might be that MY HOUSE IS MY NEW BODY.
Come to think of it, my house is actually a pretty good proxy for my former body obsession. My houses is the size that it is, and I don't have much option of moving. I think people who live in nicer or cleaner houses must look down on me as lazy or insufficiently self-controlled. Maintaining my house in a condition I consider "acceptable" takes more effort than I am capable of.
Not to mention the fact that parts of my house are often dirty, smelly, or broken, and I don't want you to see those parts.
So yeah, just like that body that it took me so long to 'accept.'
Do you think this will be the rest of my life? Displacing my neuroses from one area to another in the vain belief that I'm getting cured? If so, I fear I'll always be worried about someone judging me, and the criteria will only get increasingly more bizarre.
I don't want to hold back closeness in relationships because someone sews more than I do, or because someone makes fancier baby food, or because someone's children are better behaved than mine. I want to make new friends without apologies for who I am.
I want to be a friend without a fear of divulging my lack of capability. I want to put a stop to this now.
So today I say this to the world: My house gets messy. It gets really really messy. I let Harvey take out all my cds and rearrange the liner notes. There is a box of legos in the hallway that doesn't seem to be going back into the attic. I vacuum and I don't know what happens next.
I could be doing this better, but no. This is just where I'm at right now. I hope you'll still be friends with me.