Talking Story

The last straw happened in church.

I stood to leave the pew and realized that if I took One. More. Step. everything would be down around my ankles, exactly the wrong kind of calling on God moment you want to have in church. For the first time in over twenty years I regretted my no pantyhose policy. I hesitated for moment  and almost got run over by my son who had places to be and people to see.

“Mom?”

“Give me a minute. I gotta grab something. Stay close behind me when we walk out.”

It’s a testament to the randomness of our lives that he didn’t even blink, just shrugged his shoulders and took a half step closer to me. I reached along my side and through my sweater, gathering up a chunk of my skirt and unmentionables—it was no use simply hitching them up, I’d have to keep a grip on the too big skirt if I was going to make it all the way to the parking lot.

“Okay, let’s go.” We shuffled out.

“Mom, you’re walking weird,” said my daughter.

“My skirt’s falling down,” I muttered.

“WHAT!” she shrieked. “IN FRONT MY FRIENDS?”

“Shhhh!”

“That. Cannot. Happen!” she hissed.

You’re telling me, I thought. I nudged her with my elbow. “Then go run point. Open a path!” She slipped ahead of me, mortified into action.

What can I do? Crawl under a pew? Grab my skirt from the floor and stick it over my head as I run out? Just 20 steps more…oh, $#%@#%!

It was almost my undoing. Blocking the door as they clutched each exiting person’s hands with earnest two-handed have-a-blessed-week grips were leaders of various church committees. I smiled and nodded and barreled my way through, my daughter ducking the outstretched hands as I bobbed and weaved like a running back.

“Gotta run! We’ve got company coming,” my son offered as we blitzed by.

We made it to the car and climbed in.

Later that afternoon my husband found me in our closet, filling kitchen trash bags.

“Burning the canoe?” he asked.

“Big time,” I said gesturing to the heaps around me, spilling into the hall. “All my summer and spring, and most of the fall. I’m keeping a few fleece pieces and old sweat shirts to wear around the house this winter, but I’ll donate them to Goodwill next spring. I have a couple of pairs of pants I bought a month ago that I can still wear and I found some old career clothes that kinda fit—they’ll work okay for dressy occasions for a while, but if we go someplace warm I’m gonna need a new wardrobe.”

“Sounds good.”

“I’m going to try to wait as long as possible, though.”

“It doesn’t matter. Get what you need.”

I sighed. This whole losing weight thing was tough. This time I wasn’t dieting. I wasn’t trying to get in shape to run a one-time marathon or fit into a dress for a class reunion. I wasn’t paying a personal trainer to yell at me. I simply and completely changed my relationship with food. Three months ago I discovered I had a gluten allergy. Since then I’ve been gluten-free and loving a diet that was mostly high in protein, moderate in fat, and low in carbs. I ate treats like dark chocolate and nuts and sugar-free jello with mountains of real whipped cream when I wanted. I wasn’t hungry. I felt good, especially when the arthritic symptoms and other ailments caused by the gluten problems disappeared. Without exercising or feeling deprived on a diet I was dropping weight, down about 35 lbs. now and the numbers were slowly  creeping south. It looked sustainable and permanent enough to me that I could finally allow myself to give away the now falling-down skirts and other too-big clothes I’d held on to for far too long.

The closet was nearly empty. It was a good feeling.

As we loaded the last of the clothes for the donation center into my car, my husband said, “You ready for the next step?”

I slammed the trunk. “I just burned the canoe. There’s no going back now. But I’m not quite ready to jump on the exercise bandwagon and commit to sweating to the oldies every day.”

He laughed. “You’ll get there.”

And I will.

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