The Audacity

As I clunk through time and space, I try to envision what animals are massive yet elegant, that glide with poise and heft. Nothing comes to mind.

A former client community advocate I have a professional relationship with invites me to lunch, after realizing our offices are blocks and a hill away from each other. Deciding on an Indian cafe tucked in a plaza across the street from me, we meet after the lunch rush. Awkward hugs over, we order.

Immediately I judge my order. Why’d you get rice and not the salad? All these carbs and bread to boot?! Fattie. Of course and a Snapple, all sugar. Lookatter no wonder she keeps gaining weight. I imagine this is what my colleague is thinking, this litany is judgment on the forefront of the cashier’s mind.

Shit. The chairs are low, the tables small and tight together. As I discreetly move a chair slightly to the left to squueeeze by, I instinctively suck in my stomach, like it’s going to make a difference.

Thankfully there was no one at the need-to-move-the-chair table, but as the hour ticks away a family settles in next to us and a shifty eyed man slinks into the adjacent table. He glances over periodically, grazing over both my breasts and my stomach. He probably thinks I’m fat. My mind wanders as I take mental pictures of how tight my jeans are across my thighs, how you can see my back rolls through my cardigan.

Goddamn it. How dahell am I supposed to get out now?! More folks have joined the family and it’s officially crowded. How dare I have the audacity to take up this much space.

I wish I thought that ironically, but it was more of a defeated sigh. Even though my eyes are open, I’m closed off to the rest of the world, resting uncomfortably within the recesses of my mind.

How some days it seems being obese is the totality of my identity, how every medical complaint is answered with lose ten pounds.

I’m turned away from public spaces for having the audacity to exist. It’s been like this since elementary: first getting removed from a Red Robin restaurant with a muttered nigger, excluded from academia because of the cocktail created by my zip code and the color of my skin, papers thrown in my face and cutting my nose in the courthouse because we all look alike.

A casual lunch date had me questioning how others saw me in random situations: did they notice my heavy breasts automatically nestled on top of the table? Or was that just me? How obvious is it that the chair is just snug enough to punch around my hips?

As she laments about getting back to work, I revert back to the task at hand: gliding between the tables without nudging a stranger. I stretch my shoulders back, stand a little taller, remember the walking music that plays in my head (shake that monkey, whine go down) and switch out with a purpose like I belong.

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