here were so many hours spent worried about what they thought when they looked at me. So many nights wondering what soft curves they saw in my body. Was there too much of it? Was I too heavy to feel fragile in their arms? From the moment I turned eleven, and the tall, thin neighbor across the street took a little too much time showing me his artwork in his upstairs bedroom, from there on out, I wanted to know what men thought of me.
I spent my twenties tangled up in some of the most intense, story-worthy relationships with such a wide variety of men. There was the mandolin player from Nashville with the slow drawl, good mother, and addictions. The asshole guy that looked like Prince and who my parents hated. The heavily tattooed bouncer I dated after the asshole guy, who beat the shit out of him with his arm in a cast from a fight at the bar the night before. As loyal as a golden retriever. There was the man who held my heart the tightest but made me the most insecure because of how wickedly beautiful he and the crowd he ran with was.
They were all such different breeds, made of different matter and muscle. Yet, for some reason, I thought their love for me was all hinged on how I physically looked. I didn’t take even a second to realize how different each of them looked in their own bodies. Broad shoulders. Hollow bellies. Clear bright eyes next to dark, deep, cavernous ones. Thick, warm waistlines…it was all there and I was madly in love with each one of them.
I was so terribly absorbed in how my thighs looked in sunlight, how my arms flattened wide if I made the mistake of letting them press against my sides in photos. I was so spent and wasted on the details of my features that I never experienced the full joy of what being in love with those men must feel like when you love yourself.
You want to know what, though. Those men have come back over time. They have checked in and touched base, and asked, “how you doing?” Some even came back to ask for a second chance, when truly my insecurities never even gave them a first. Not one of them, not a single one, ever mentioned my body as a reason for why they cared for me, for why they loved holding me, or felt at peace with me. My weight had no bearing on what I meant to them. To a girl who was so focused on appearance and first impressions, none of them ever said they were drawn to talk to me because of how I looked. The beautiful one I mentioned making me the most insecure, well, he said when he put his arms around me, I felt like home. And, for f&%! sake, if that doesn’t make me take a deep breath and love how I’m shaped, I don’t know what would.
Now here I am at 35, with a two-year-old daughter of my own, and a husband who watched my body morph from my lightest weight to my heaviest. I look at my child, at the light she radiates and the space she fills. How her little body is so beautiful because it holds her soul.
Man, time has gone by fast for me. How fast it is still moving. If I have any legacy to give to her, it will be that of knowing love is never rooted in how your bones are put together. It is a peaceful feeling she gets when she looks in the mirror. All I want for the two of us is to travel the rest of this life feeling the full joy of living life without worrying how you may look to others.
We are humans. We are not built to be mere houses. We are built to feel like someone’s home.
Say Hi to Nikki on insta @the_little_bukowski