Thursday, October 16, 2008

Skinny Jeans

As I sit here and type, I am wearing my Skinny Jeans. I have to type fast in case they suddenly become too tight again.

Back in the summer of 2005, I was probably in the best shape of my life. I’d just run my fastest marathon ever, and I biked up (and down) Clingman’s Dome—the highest point in Tennessee and the second highest point east of the Mississippi. I was an animal.

Then I had to get serious about writing my thesis proposal and taking my pre-lim exams. I also had a more traditional 9 to 5-ish job as the undergraduate advisor, and I couldn’t take off and run whenever I felt like it. I went from 40-mile weeks to 20-mile weeks, and then even less than that. But I never stopped eating brownies. Needless to say, the Skinny Jeans became snug and I eventually stopped wearing them.

Then I went to Nicaragua. Did I mention how fond the Nicaraguans are of frying everything? When we came back for a brief visit over Christmas, I made the mistake of finding the Skinny Jeans in a box at my parents’ house and attempting to put them on. Yikes. I don’t think I could get them up past my knees. My mother said that they must have shrunk in the wash. “Have you been coming down to the basement and washing all the clothes that I am storing here?” I asked her. She paused slightly, then said, “…Yessss?” Actually, knowing my mother, I wouldn’t put it past her to do that. But it wasn’t helping me to be delusional.

And it didn’t help matters either, when we went back to Nicaragua and both Alejandra and Doña Argentina told me, “Melissa, estas más gorda!” It wasn’t really a compliment or a criticism, just an observation. I vowed that I wouldn’t let my newfound girth (and others’ observations of it) bother me, but it was quite an adjustment. I’d never been particularly lean as a kid, but for about the last 10 years or so, I’d been quite skinny, and I guess I’d gotten used to it. It suddenly felt weird not to think of myself as skinny anymore, but there was very little I could do about it. I didn’t have much control over what I ate at the field station, and generally after a long day out in the forest, I was hungry enough to eat whatever fried, greasy thing they put in front of me at dinner that night. Plus, the dry season was tough. Sometimes 1 or 2 little packs of Chickies (Lorna Doone type cookies covered in chocolate) were the only thing that could get me through the day.

When we finally moved back from Nicaragua, I sort of assumed all this extra weight would just fly right off me, as soon as I was back to my typical diet and running marathons again. But a year of going without brownies leaves you with no restraint. Every once and a while I would attempt to put the Skinny Jeans on, only to realize that I could not breathe or move while wearing them, much less let myself be seen outside the house. More than once, I put them in a pile of clothes to take to the Goodwill, but I always snatched them back, as if in some fit of nostalgic desperation.

It took 2 marathons and a whole year, but I am pleased to announce that I can now comfortably wear the Skinny Jeans again! I don’t know how it happened, but one day I just put them on and gasped in disbelief when they actually fit! After this moment, I wore the Skinny Jeans for about 2 weeks straight without washing them. I was so afraid that a spin through the washing machine would shrink them and that would be the end of the story. But I finally bit the bullet and washed them (cold water of course, that’s how I wash everything); I hung them up on the clothesline to dry, and lo and behold, they still fit. In fact, I can say that they are even becoming a little bit loose these days.

The irony of all this is that whenever it was that I got these jeans, they were actually a replacement for a former pair of Skinny Jeans that had become too tight to fit. I distinctly remember going to the store, peering into the garishly lit dressing room mirror, and then grimly purchasing this pair of jeans that were the same brand and style as my former pair, just a size larger. But that was back in the day when I thought a container of light, fat-free yogurt was perfectly acceptable as a meal, and only weak women stopped for lunch.

Even though I work from home and rarely have anywhere to go during the day, I still find every excuse to wear my skinny jeans. In fact, its all I can do not to climb up to the roof and shout to the world, “World, I am wearing my Skinny Jeans again!” But I try to use restraint. Still, when everything seems kind of grim—my dissertation is a disaster, I’ll never have health care or social security or a real job—it is nice to have the small piece of comfort that I can face these challenges while wearing my Skinny Jeans.

Thanks for reading.


gutzville said...

I thought all of your jeans were "skinny jeans" :)

Anonymous said...

Mom Scho said...If fitting into your "skinny jeans" makes you happy, more power to you! I'm all about
my family being happy!!! :)