Monday, August 4, 2014

The life vest

I spent last week at my parents' new house in North Carolina, on Lake Gaston (pronounced Gastin, not the French way, and also best pronounced with a southern accent).  

Even though they're just over the Virginia border (seriously, at one point we considered swimming to Virginia), it might as well be another country.  It's beautiful there, but man, rural.  Like, rural rural.  Like no internet no cell service rural.  The best internet my parents can get is one and a half somethings.  I don't know what the somethings are, but what it means is that they can't stream Netflix and if someone wants to Skype with their grandbabies in Idaho, their grandbabies in the house with them have to get off their ipads and their daughter (i.e., me) has to get off facebook.

And you can't use your phone as a GPS, because there is no cell service.

One day we went to a flea market.  We poked through antique jewelry, rusted cast iron pots begging to be rejuvenated, and old washboards that unfortunately didn't say anything unintentionally hilarious about rubbing something out.  Oh, and here's how rural.  At one of the stalls, we tried to buy stuff, but couldn't because the seller wasn't around this weekend.  He had his brother manning the stall, but his brother didn't know the prices, so we couldn't buy anything. "Maybe next weekend," we were told.  And this guy let us look at stuff for ten minutes and didn't tell us nothing was for sale until we asked.

It is so rural that stuff at the flea market is not for sale, but people just sit there all day anyway.  Because... there is nothing else to do??  I guess??

Or maybe he just didn't like our Yankee accents and didn't want us wearing his grandmother's old scarf clips.  I don't know.  I don't get it.

Anyway, we found plenty to do in rural North Carolina.  Mostly involving eating, drinking, playing inappropriate and dirty games of telepictionary, and hanging out on the lake.

One day we went tubing behind my dad's boat, and that is the story I really came here to tell.

We took turns on the tube. My adventurous little brother went first, and then the kids had their turns.  Next my brother's girlfriend went, and then it was my turn.  Let me paint this little picture.  My brother's girlfriend is something like a size 2. Actually, I asked her after writing the first version of this.  She's a size zero.  She's an adorable, extremely sweet and cool little size zero person.

So when it was my turn, she handed over the life vest the adults were all sharing, it having been adorably zipped and clipped on her tiny bod a moment ago.

It was a size medium life vest.  I'm a 2X.

So fuck.

It didn't zip, not even close. My heart sank as I tried it on and realized I was going to have to deal with the fact that the generic adult life vest that everyone was using wasn't going to fit me.  It was one of those times.  Those one-size-fits-all-except-not-all-because-not-me times.  

It doesn't matter how much self-love work you do.  When something is supposed to be appropriate for people in general, and you're too big for it, it's devastating and kind of dehumanizing.  Like when a chair has a weight limit that is lower than your weight.  Or worse, when you look at a chair and you wonder.  Will it hold me or will I break a chair? And yes, I have broken a chair.  Only once.  But it only takes once.  

Maybe a thinner person would have broken that chair too because it was structurally unsound.  Or maybe I'm a gigantic non-person who can't have nice things like chairs.  Or life vests.  Or tube rides.

Tube rides is suddenly dirty in my mind.  Just thought I'd share that.

Anyway, all of the big girls out there know what I'm talking about.  It's that moment when you fear you might need a seat belt extender in an airplane.  That moment when you realize there is literally no place you can go to try on and buy a bra.  That moment when they have to swap out the blood pressure cuff.  That moment when you realize that you're too big for something that is fine for (what seems like) everyone else.

It's devastating.

I had a choice in that moment.  Beg off and miss the fun.

Or don't.

I figured before asking if my dad had another life vest, I would see if I could at least clip this little size medium thing around my body, even if it wouldn't zip.

I managed to clip the two clips below hooter level where it fit slightly better, and a funny thing happened. The life vest basically functioned as a sort of bustier, and pushed my boobs up. Suddenly, even next to my size zero almost-sister-in-law, I felt beautiful, with my life-vest-corseted tatas all supported and on display.  It was my kind of beauty, not her kind.  We are both beautiful.  And if I weren't the size I am, I wouldn't have these giant boobs sitting adorably on their life vest bustier shelf.

It was my turn to ride.  I floundered like an awkwardly beached whale trying to get on the tube. And then I had the best time ever flying across the water, in and out of the wake, hanging on for dear life.  It was awesome.  And I was the only adult who didn't fall off the tube. And I was pleasantly sore the next day from the craziness of hanging on as the tube whipped across the lake.  

And my self-love was stronger than ever.

So here's the moral of the story: When life gives you a too-small life vest, turn it into a bustier!