I was the ugly one.


@postaday 184; #postaday2011.

I’ve given this thought a few days to meld, and I have so much else going on in my life that I need to write it out of my system. I’ll revisit it, eventually.

Every time I go back to where I grew up, I have a splendid time. I had one set of cousins and they were like extra sisters and a brother. We always get together when I go back. When I was single, we’d go to the bars to dance and toss back some beers (always in bottles). When we were real little we’d sleep over each other’s houses for weeks at a time during the summer, after the swim team season was over. This time I got to see my cousins for one glorious day at my sister’s, who had everyone over for brunch on Father’s Day. A good time was had by all.

Because we now go back to the East Coast so infrequently, and because my girls are growing so fast, we loaded our trip, which we’ll be paying for through Labor Day, with excursions to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., the Jersey Shore… but you know that already. After my 35th high school reunion (where I was one of several 35-year-old women, DEFY ME I DARE YOU!), we had another brunch at my brother’s house. Our girls spent the night with his girls and again, a good time was had by all.

I love seeing our four girls together. Who knows how old they’ll be when they see each other again. I really would like to go back to the East Coast more frequently, but life happens.

That’s what brings me to this. I was the ugly one. I was the fat one. I was the one with the frizzy hair. I had a really bad tic when I was little that still flares up if I don’t get enough sleep. My skin broke out when I was in the fifth grade and has ever since. I got in trouble a lot in school simply because I wasn’t paying attention. It wasn’t because I was bad. I’d stand at the back of the class with my arms outstretched holding two heavy text books. I had been beaten by nuns regularly. And I spaced out once in class during math and reengaged during history. I didn’t learn grammar until I attended a remedial English class in college taught by a patient and compassionate woman. Look at me now. What’s dangling?

A week ago it had been brought to my attention that my flaws are the reason I hate a sibling. This was breaking news. Here’s another news flash: Rather than going through life dragging a cross pocked with negative adjectives, I chose the alternative. I chose to LIVE.

Let me put it this way: If you grow up ugly, get zits when you’re 10, are constantly watching your weight, and never get asked to the prom, there are two things you can do. You can wallow or you can work it.

I am what I am.

Really? I’m ugly? Really?

Pointing out my looks is ineffective. I’ve adjusted and adapted to them long ago. I didn’t get to sit around on high school floats. Instead I got to run around and jump up and down and ride a bike and swim in the pool or the ocean and get my hair wet. I am interested and I am interesting. I found a guy who didn’t want to let me go and he’s still here. I have countless friends. They make me laugh, they are fun, they are kind, they love me for who I am.

If I weren’t so flawed, then I would probably have lived expecting the lush life to land in my lap. Some people sit and wait, their emptiness expanding with resentment. Some people are pretty on the outside, but that prettiness never transforms into a generous heart.

Perspective. Those of us who appear quite unremarkable are actually just that. When you love someone, you let your soul see more than your eyes ever could.

When I tell you I was the ugly one, maybe you’ll disagree.