I feel optimistic today – which given the dull, grey and overcast sky is not really how I guess I expected to feel when I first looked out of my curtains this morning. However I’ve quite enjoyed being outside in the chillier weather. It’s the little things that I’m oddly enjoying – such as noticing that the tip of my nose is cold while I walk or that my face feels suddenly really warm when I get back to my house. Everywhere I walk there’s also condensation from my breath on my moustache and it’s a nice feeling being toasty and snug from exercise in such cool temperatures.
My leg is definitely on the mend (although still feeling like I’ve been kicked hard in the shin) and Apple Watch reports that I’ve covered around eight miles today, making my total sixteen since Monday. I started my day with a gentle stroll around the park and ended it with a longer walk around the streets of Warwick.
I don’t normally walk in the dark, but lately I have been with one particular friend, as the time slot suits us both. We’ve taken to walking where there is street lighting as the dark evenings have drawn in and the parks aren’t universally well lit. Tonight we were strolling around some local housing estates and doing a big loop around them back to my house.
‘Is that someone you know?’ she said to me as we crossed the road. I turned to look at the passing little blue VW car she pointed at, but I didn’t recognise it.
‘They were waving at you…’
I looked again at the car, which was getting smaller as it melted into the distance.
‘No idea. It’s happened a few times lately’ I said ‘and I never manage to see who it is that beeps or waves before they’re gone.’
I like this new phenomenon though.
It’s a nice feeling that someone who knows me from somewhere just saw me out and about and has seen that I’m alive and well. It makes me feel like part of a community. The not knowing who waved is also kind of cool as well – as it might spark a conversation with someone at a later date when I least expect it.
It has a few times already.
The streets in Warwick were otherwise quiet tonight though – and all of the traffic and people appeared to be elsewhere. Inside each little house we passed there was a light inside and as I walked and talked in the background I imagined little families in all of them snuggled up and happy – together in the warm.
A particularly big television was showing Pixar’s ‘Cars’ high up on the wall in one living room as I passed, and although I couldn’t see the occupants below I imagined the children next to their parents on the sofa – or watching with wonder on their own from a comfy rug on the floor.
‘I have no idea why people don’t have curtains.’ I said to my companion, musing on the odd phenomenon of being able to look right inside someone’s private space as I walked past.
‘Me either.’ She said. ‘It’s crazy! Why would you want to be on view?’
I have blackout curtains in my living room. They’re lined with opaque plastic and stop both heat AND light penetrating my inner sanctum unless I want it to. People will only manage to catch a glimpse of me in my pants if they bring an x-ray machine and set it up on my front lawn.
Yet other people sit watching TV on their sofas with their lights on and curtains either wide open or (more mindbogglingly still) completely absent. I find the psychology of both standpoints fascinating – as I consider neither ‘wrong’ or ‘right’.
I personally don’t want to be seen from the street because I feel that it invades my personal space and I want my privacy. Other people may not view their personal space with the same boundaries and are entirely OK with being looked at. They’ve no problem with me walking past their house and seeing Lightning McQueen entertaining their children.
They may even find it quite comforting and normal – just like I do when a car passes and someone waves at me.
In fact I might seem odd to them for putting my thoughts online. Some might even argue that what I do gives people a far more intimate insight into my life than the lack of any curtains may do – but for some reason one is a line I don’t feel able to cross and the other is not.
People’s willingness to be seen or not seen is something I’ve been thinking about on and off all week as I’ve considered my body image and how both I and other people view me.
I’ve always been amazed that some people are quite happy being seen completely or partially naked on a beach for instance – yet I can’t currently bear the thought of going swimming at a public or private pool.
Why are my fears about being seen in person so radically different to my lack of fear about people reading my innermost thoughts? If I’m happy to be overweight and exposed in print then why is the physical equivalent any more upsetting when I consider it.
In lots of ways I’ve stopped feeling any kind of public shame at all about the problems or ‘failures’ associated with my weight. Oddly though I still occasionally beat myself up about them, and then like a masochist tell everyone about that too…
I wonder what makes me so simultaneously open and yet fiercely private almost in the same breath.
Maybe I should go and find a beach that legally allows it and just go and take all my clothes off for the hell of it – just to see what it feels like to be physically as well as emotionally exposed. Maybe it’s a barrier that at some point needs to be crossed so that I can get over the huge mass of negative self images that I have in my head.
Why should I care what people think of me when they look at me? What does it matter? It’s my body and its the only one I’ve got. If I can’t be happy with the one I have I’ll never have another and I’ll just end up miserable.
Sure it will get slimmer and more toned as time goes on but it will still bear the scars of a life lived without care for many years.
If I want to live life to the full at some point I’m going to have to metaphorically (and maybe physically) open my living room curtains and let the world look. Maybe then, just like with my writing, I’ll learn how not to care what people see and just love myself for what and who I am.
Hopefully when I do internet they will look at me without judgement in the same way that I look at them.