where the blood meets the lymph, it looks like a glorious sunset is drifting through my drainage tube. i tell myself this, pushing this red-tinged golden fluid bracingly away through my new plastic appendage. i tell myself this, as it drips sickeningly into a suction bottle that clips against me like a blood grenade. as it clings stickily to long strands of clotted blood like macabre red yarn. as it leaks out of me from a wound spilling forth its sloppy black sutures with the threat of complete detachment.
i am removed from my body. i do not recognize it anymore. i am not quite sure it belongs to me.
"you deserve this," says my plastic surgeon, somehow managing to talk and beam simultaneously. his smile is blindingly white; perfect, even, promising a better life with every glint. "you've worked so hard to lose all that weight, this is just the next step."
his wife stands beside him, her hair coiffed in huge, lush waves that belong in a shampoo ad and not this sterile office. her waist is possibly the same circumference of my calves; her breasts redefine the center of gravity. the two of them side-by-side are beautiful, and i am the clumsy outsider, awkward and uncomfortable in this black apron draped uselessly across my shoulders like a superhero cape. mediocrity girl.
the next step.
my father attempted to dissuade me, of course. he reassured me that the most important qualities i possess are talent and intellect in equal measure- my gifts from genetics, he reminded me. "as far as beauty," he concedes, "you are good enough."
and maybe that was the final push. good enough is not good enough.
my struggles with beauty, with weight, with body image. these things are not new or revelatory to anyone who has ever had two x chromosomes. i've never needed to chronicle them because i can read my own journey in any given sentence written by a female after puberty. the pressure to be desirable, the privileges of beauty.
and a thousand shared image macros promoting the importance of inner beauty and body acceptance couldn't erase the echo of one friend carelessly opining that i'm not at my "full potential." every mile i ran couldn't take me further away from the memory of an adolescence spent living as "ugly mimi." and i thought when the pounds came off the self-loathing would too, but it's never been far enough behind me. it has followed me to this day, to this couch, to this moment as i am sliding a sunset between my fingers and contemplating the cost of unattainable beauty.
i deserve this.