SGLY: Size 10.5
I was surprised when the hostess told me it would be an hour wait. For a weekday evening, that seemed excessive, but the breeze was nice and the heat of the day was cooling into a pleasant evening, so I shared a bench with my family and waited. It was the first intentional pause I had all week.
In the pause I observed the movements of passersby — those deep in conversation, either as listeners or talkers. Some were on their cellphones, others on the arms of loved ones. A grouping of young women began to gather within earshot. Each was dressed for a balmy night, wearing a sundress to a cropped tank and frayed high-rise shorts. And each offered a welcoming smile and a hug to the next expected girl who joined their party. All in all, I guessed there were 15-20 girls in their early twenties waiting for their table.
I became a little dizzy trying to regain my balance within the peripheral of their conversations. I had been taken from a tranquil pause into a hive of chatter, laughter, and selfies. For a moment, I caught myself feeling considerably older and frumpier. I adjusted my sitting position only to feel the ache and stiffness in my back. I laughed at myself: Now I’m the old lady sitting on the bench.
Life looks different from this view. I no longer have their youthful energy, dreams, or metabolism. My scale has tipped — I have lived more than I have yet to live. Still, as I look at their suntans and my sunspots, a gentle wave of acceptance washes over me. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in my living just as much today as I did at their age, and I dare say, I am much kinder to myself now than I have ever been.
I was reminded of the importance of kindness as a car pulled up to the restaurant's entrance and a young woman got out from the passenger seat. I assumed she was with the large party, but by the disapproving stares of several young ladies, I soon realize she is not part of their clique.
The young woman stood alone. Her age and style were similar to the other young ladies — she donned high-rise denim shorts with a flowy, spaghetti strap tank. Yet, she looked different than those looking her way.
Nearing six-feet-tall, her big-boned frame carried an excessive amount of weight — curvy and heavy. Her blonde hair shined just as brightly in the setting sun; her skin equally as smooth despite being pale. She stood confidently in her tan heeled wedges. Something about her was unconventionally pretty, and it did not take me long to discover one of the many reasons why she was so lovely.
"That woman is an amazon!" I find the body associated to the comment and notice she is thin, wearing a tight emerald mini dress. She is speaking to two of her girlfriends from the large group.
Another in the trio chimes in. "She is literally huge. Huge."
The third girl looks once more at the large girl standing alone. This girl is not as petite as her friends, though she is smaller than the girl they are criticizing. I could tell she did not want to say anything but did so despite herself. "I wonder what size shoe she wears?" She lets out an uncomfortable laugh before looking at the ground.
People continue to walk by, and it seems like the girl standing alone might be without a companion. I turn my head in the direction of the parking garage and notice a young man walking toward the restaurant. I was not the only one who saw him.
"There. Don't be obvious. Look over there," says the girl in the green dress. "Damn." The three girls give noticeable attention to a strikingly good-looking young man heading their way. He has a high and tight haircut, creamy brown skin, a muscular, tall frame, and a walk that exudes confidence. He smiles before getting to his destination, and his smile is enough to make the girl in the green dress sigh aloud.
But this man is not smiling at those girls — this man is smiling at his girl. He walks up to the young woman standing alone and puts his hand on the small of her back. Kissing her neck gently, he says, "Sorry I took so long, gorgeous. It took me a while to find a space. They’re waiting for us inside."
I take a closer look at this young woman now in this man’s arms. She is pretty. She is gorgeous. Why? She is comfortable and confident in her own skin. She likes and loves herself. She knows her worth and whose opinion counts; and more importantly, whose opinions do not count.
The man takes her hand and leads her through the crowd of ladies and into the restaurant. She beams as she follows him. There is no mistaking that he is proud to be with her, and she is equally proud to be with him. As she passes the three girls, she pulls back on her boyfriend's hand. He pauses long enough for her to address them.
"Size 10.5," she says, smiling.
That evening at dinner I find myself focusing less on my achy muscles and aging body and more on my smile and my words. I center myself in being fully present in whatever my body is or is not at this moment — this is my vessel, and I am thankful for it… unflattering parts and all. I have eyes, a mind, and a heart that can choose to see the beauty in others… including myself.
I exit the restaurant and see someone sitting at the bench I was at earlier. The woman there now is considerably older than I am, and as we exchange smiles, I am drawn to compliment her. "I love your purple dress," I tell her as I pass.
"Thank you, dear," she says. "And I love your smile."
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.