The prompt was “a love letter to the body.” Folks can interpret this all sorts of ways — I often find myself offering these letters to one part of my body or another, usually some part that I feel (especially) complicated about. This time, well, I think you can pretty quickly tell which part I’m needing to send some love to.
It’s true that I have been grateful for your heft and weight ever since you had any heft and weight. I should apologize now for those months, just as you were budding, that I squeezed you (well, us) into two sizes too-small tube tops (wasn’t that one kind of a grassy green, and ribbed or ruffly or something?) in front of the full-length mirror in the basement of mom’s duplex apartment on California Street — you were all stifled, unable to breathe, but I puffed you out and paraded like a girl was supposed to, bent my arms back like not-yet-broken wings and posed for the dank and empty room while little sqares of sunlight flowed in from the small windows high up on the cement wall. I was trying to hurry you along, wanted the big, full curves of Farrah Fawcett, maybe, or HotLips Houlihan, or, yeah, Daisy Duke — who else would I/we have been inspired by back then? Maybe elementary school teachers, and a couple of classmates whose development had already, well, developed. We didn’t have anything especial to show the world for some time, though, did we? Just a flush roundness that seemed small compared to everything we noted, the girls who wore tight t-shirts, the porn underneath my parent’s bed.
When did you flesh out so nice for me? By the time I was in college, I was cupping you in fine fake lace (remember that one green bra? a grown up version of that tube top, now with something to form itself around) and offering you more readily to others’ eyes. We wore frills under leather jackets or oxford shirts and admired the contrast. I was just learning how to appreciate all the curves I’d longed for back a decade earlier, but then it became much safer to flatten you down beneath sports bras, to clothe my own self in boy garb and butch realness, though even then I just couldn’t cotton to how the guys wanted to do away with their girl bits, from their tits on down, the guys who’d been horrified at how girl developed over and onto their bodies, the bodies they’d just learned to be comfortable in as little boys — but not me, remember? This was something I kept my mouth closed about, lest I reveal myself (even further) as not a real butch: I adored my breasts. Even as I reached out toward transitioning, set my safety against the idea of walking in the world only as male, what stopped me was this: how could I give you up? I cupped my hands around you, when I was alone, and couldn’t reconcile these realities.