Origins – Part 2
Perhaps my suit looked too expensive and they knew I would feel out of place amongst my patients…
Who knows. I didn’t even bother emailing the committee to find out what I could do for next time. My brief window of both altruism and of opportunity said ‘fuck it, and fuck you’ and then promptly shut. Like I always say, once a window yells expletives at you, it’s time to find something else to look through.
Eventually, the offensive piece of parchment found its way into the “basket o’ bills.” I imagined it would become fast friends with my mortgage payment reminders. It would commiserate with the multiple warnings from my condo association (about my impending water shut off which I stopped responding to once I realized they were just changing the date on the same letter and sending it again). I didn’t care. Whatever went in the basket stayed in the basket. It was a black hole that had sucked any air of responsibility left into its gaping maw.
I went to work. I tried to share my knowledge of the real world with the children (well, 21 years old, but really..) whom I worked with. But, of course it fell on deaf ears. Like me at that age, the future held nothing but the prospect of getting the hell out of school and getting a job to make real money. My own sorrows mounted, and I reacted as I always had, lots of drinking and a fair amount of making out with random boys. I was able to find others with similar grief and wounds that needed healing. In retrospect, the letter only made it out of the car and into the basket of doom, because I needed a cleaner car to take tricks home in, not because I cared if I could see the floorboards.
One fateful day at work, I picked up a flier that a blonde and overly perky woman had left on the bar. It was for a bootcamp. At 6 am. In the freezing cold. And a 30 minute drive from my soon-to-be-doomed townhome. To be honest, I don’t remember what happened that made me decide to join. I despise exercise. I detest organized sport activities. Quite frankly, sweating makes me angry and irritable. All I know is that I signed up at 1 am the day before it started as though a ray of sun seeped through my window and had alighted on the ‘enter’ key. Granted, it also cost a pretty penny, and perhaps that was part of my motivation to actually get up the next morning. I expected an annoying group of overly perky, exercise-happy, judgmental people.
What I found was just a group of people trying to be “better”…something I had stopped doing quite a while ago. I don’t remember the first four weeks of camp. Literally. All I remember is the feeling of my body being torn apart at the seams and then slowly and very painfully (with really long needles) being put back together (think Wolverine, in the remarkably boring ‘X-men Origins’ movie, though perhaps without the mega muscles…and sans big sideburns). There were hot baths, and tiger balm, and frozen bags of peas, and having other people tie my shoes for me because I couldn’t bend over. There was continuing to work 70 hours a week with no sleep. There was also vomiting, and the popping of ibuprofen pills as though they were cocaine-laced candy corns. I wasn’t a believer, but I had reached a low….and I knew that I must somehow I drag myself out of bed (often literally kicking and screaming) in order to finish the transformation I had started. There were people who depended on me now.
I changed. Yes, I said it. I became one of “those people.” Those who espoused the benefits of exercise, who sneered at the mere thought of eating pizza, and who casually tossed doughnuts aside as if they were made of sawdust. People stopped recognizing me. My acne disappeared, as did my big butt. I went from a “L” to a “M.” I had to buy new jeans, and then by them again when I went from a 36 to a 34 to a 32. I had become happier without even realizing it was happening. Though I would not have thought it possible, the unhappy people around me annoyed me even more than before. I left my house on the weekends! I went out! I made out with more boys, but this time they were attractive (well, mostly…). I had changed physically, but my brain was wandering around listlessly without a direction and without a goal in sight. My brain didn’t realize it had a new shell, and one that it should feel worthy of enjoying. For pete’s sake, I need some self-respect! I wanted to change the inside also, but I didn’t have the luxury of paying $300 and having my brain exercised, or for that matter, exorcised.
The more people asked of me at work, the more I wanted to run screaming. The more questions people asked, the more vague my answers became. The worse things got financially, the more I knew I must do something, or go crazy. Luckily, I had been given a door to possibly open and escape through, by one of the first people I told of my failures. Maura had, possibly jokingly, suggested I come to her country to escape for awhile….perhaps teach some English until I could answer that age old question: “what to do with the rest of your life.” So of course I did what everyone does when they are facing certain financial ruin, have a pronounced lack of direction, have a need to say ‘fuck you’ to America or finally feel fuckable, or who just need to do some serious soul-reforming thinking. I fled to Italy. But not with my tail between my legs as most people thought, but more with a fresh face towards my new country’s pale yellow sunlight…