In fact, three of us did, in our own ways.
Right about now, my Thai masseuse, Melissa, is having her wardrobe reconfigured by my very dear friend and fashion expert Sonja. There is nobody that I know better at this than Sonja, who knows how to field the inevitable question,
DOES THIS MAKE MY BUTT LOOK FAT?
Sonja isn’t just gracious. She is the single most informed person on fashion I know, and she is unbelievable at ripping out that stupid shit you and I impulse buy. She replaces those orphans with superb choices that don’t break the bank, and advises us on everything right up to the size and color of the earring to wear with this outfit. As in: how big, shiny, matte, etc. She is amazing, and worth five times what she charges. She did it for my closet and blew me away. I thought I knew her. Truth, I had no clue how good she really is.
This is what I wrote about her a while back:
The Rx For Nothing to Wear: Here’s Your Capsule
If you’ve ever stood in front of your closet and wailed, “But I have nothing to wear!” you’re in good company. Often…
So Melissa is in for a treat. Here’s what happened with Melissa.
Melissa and I’ve been friends since 2013, when I began training for Kilimanjaro. I trained very hard, and I needed body work. She was just finishing up her massage certification training at the downtown Denver Thai school. When she graduated, I followed her to her home practice. A close friendship blossomed and we became very dear buddies.
I’ve been Melissa’s friend through a marriage, divorce and two more love affairs. She’s helped me with my body, my house and my heart. As the years have passed, she and I have laughed about our aging bodies. She’s four years younger at 64, and she has that thicker middle and flat hips that can be so maddening to dress up.
She’s always dressed well, but comfortably. I introduced her to Sonja, knowing that a friendship would follow. Of course it did. I didn’t think of making a suggestion that she might use Sonja for her closet back then.
Melissa’s always been self-conscious about her belly. Her weight has fluctuated a bit here and there. Her efforts to do something about it haven’t been terribly successful over the years. Until now. Here’s what happened, and why today’s Closet Event is such a joy for me.
Last year I stayed in Melissa’s basement for a few days right after kidney stone surgery and just after I’d signed the papers to sell my house and buy this one in Oregon. While I was there, a new friend showed up.
I only saw her in passing, but it wasn’t long after I’d left Denver forever that said new friend was also the Major Love Interest in Melissa’s life.
As the year under Covid wore on, Melissa and I found ourselves talking far more often. Our bi-weekly massage sessions, which used to be a combination of laugh fest and muscle care for both of us, were gone, and now we found time to speak about how our lives were evolving. That connection took on far greater importance given quarantine. And we missed each other.
Her relationship grew, skidded sideways slightly, recovered, strengthened and grew more.
And Melissa’s body changed.
One day she announced that, without a whole lot of effort on her part, she’d dropped twelve pounds. Enough so that stuff no longer fit.
She was both pleased and surprised. And clearly, in need of some new duds.
Melissa, ever one for looking deeply for life’s Whys and Wherefores, wondered about the weight loss. What she came up with was that she didn’t need it any more. She and I are both childhood sexual assault survivors, and for a great many of us, such things lead to body dysmorphia and weight gain as armor. I can relate. I did it too. I released my armor 34 years ago.
She said that she had apparently come to the point where she had love in her life, not just because of this new person, but that she had decided, at some very deep level, that her body deserved love and not censure, or blame, or shame.
We let go when we’re ready. Not a moment too late, nor a moment too soon.
Melissa was ever lovely to me with or without the extra weight, which is the great and abiding truth for us all.
Sonja, she of the 22" waist for so many years, finally blossomed into what the great Ursula K. Le Guin called perfection:
Perfection is “lean” and “taut” and “hard” — like a boy athlete of twenty, a girl gymnast of twelve. What kind of body is that for a man of fifty or a woman of any age? “Perfect”? What’s perfect? A black cat on a white cushion, a white cat on a black one . . . A soft brown woman in a flowery dress . . . There are a whole lot of ways to be perfect, and not one of them is attained through punishment.
I loved her no less for having her waist expand as the result of love, and shared dinners, wine and the great joy of being happily married again late in life.
That was Sonja’s makeover, an event I stood witness for, as did Melissa, in an intimate ceremony in a small church with her great, round, imposing godfather ministering the marriage vows.
All of us deserve makeovers, especially late in life. I did mine by moving half a country away to a place I adore. I am currently making over a guest bedroom which I dearly hope, post-Covid, will welcome my friends. Melissa in her new wardrobe choices, Sonja ever lovely and fashionable and trailing her scented candle essences. Because of Sonja, I now have said scented candles in the house, and they are constant reminders of her, as if I needed them.
My makeover is to live close to the birds and squirrels, surrounded by tall trees, the sounds of rain on the roof and the wind in the firs, close to the cold pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean. That is my perfection, as I am now greeted in the mornings by the army of birds which lately discovered the suet hanging from my kitchen window.
As we age, and some of us get a little rounder and softer, and others slim down a bit, and others find life’s perfection in the moss-covered rocks and soft humidity of a Pacific Northwest world, I am reminded of the exquisite ebbs and flows of life. How we change sometimes so subtly that we hardly even notice.
Until one day we greet ourselves in the morning mirror with something like surprise, as though somehow, this New Person appeared overnight.
No. We were just making her over, becoming perfect in our own ways.
Originally published at https://www.walkaboutsaga.com on February 21, 2021.