Yesterday, after taking the pup for a quick jaunt around our block, I hopped the downtown train to make an appointment that had me a little jumpy. But no really — it was a trampoline exercise class that brought back childhood nostalgia along with a quick fix for my champagne hangover from the night before. I quickly discovered that while I’ve always had quite the bounce in my step, when I try to actually put some steps to that bounce… it’s not exactly graceful. No matter — I found myself sweating more than I thought possible when it’s under 20 degrees outside, and once the class ended, I graced the streets of Soho without muffs or gloves to get an iced coffee.
When the wind hit my flushed cheeks, I inhaled and smiled at the dirty, yet fascinating concrete landscape before me.
Since I’ve been living in the fog of cold, dreary days and the cloud of a warm, promising someone, I haven’t had much time — or really energy — to just walk around the streets I moved hundreds of mile to walk on. And so, carrying around gym clothes and a book I’ve been trying to read for a month without much progress, I decided to forget about the frozen sidewalks and have a day date with my very first love.
I tried on a dozen puffy down coats because I know I need one, but can’t seem to fall enough in love with one to actually fork over the cash to bring it home. Then I browsed clearance black boots in search of a replacement pair for the ones that my lovely dog not-so-innocently chewed the zipper (thanks, Lucy). I spent a good thirty minutes redesigning my bedroom in Bed, Bath and Beyond, filled up a cart and determined I could find a way to budget it into my savings before concluding that I liked the way my space looked and put it all away. I lost myself in the Container Store because for some odd reason, organizing gets me excited, and I landed a pair of expensive running pants on sale for $2. And then, I walked across some avenues and got naked.
No, but really.
It wasn’t technically in Soho, but at the Soho House — a swanky, members-only establishment in Meatpacking — but saying I stripped down to nothing in Meatpacking just seems very terrifying and kinda dirty. And while I’d love to say that my baring-it-all adventure was caused by a lovely combination of friends who encouraged me to let it all go and some sparkly something to make me feel at ease, it wasn’t that type of situation. Instead, it involved a fancy gift certificate and a massage therapist who knew just how to knead out the soreness in my very tired legs and shoulders.
It doesn’t seem like much of a story, I know — but when I walked out of my relaxing oasis into the women’s changing room, sporting a fuzzy robe and slippers, I caught a look at myself in the mirror and couldn’t believe what I saw.
For the first time, probably ever, I saw natural beauty.
Beauty that wasn’t made by Maybelline or lined with liner or pinched with pouty lipstick. Instead, it was me. With some flaws and lines, some scars and teeth that definitely aren’t aligned symmetrically and flushed cheeks from nearly falling asleep from an hour of rubbing. I’ve worn makeup nearly every single day since I was 13, and though my skin isn’t entirely clear yet, with the help of Accutane lately, it’s been rather radiant. I’ve been so amazed with the results and the changes, that I decided I would try the makeup-free thing at the spa. So, I must have looked a tad obsessive, standing there looking at myself, but I realized that in my pure state of just me, I was actually, just fine. Better than that actually — I was, and am, just lovely.
With that confidence, I headed to the steam room, where I decided I wanted to go… robe-less. And though no one came in for me to compare myself to, I know I would have felt comfortable if they did. The past six months, I’ve worked really hard to get myself to the very best me that I can be — both emotionally by letting go of the past and imagining a future that’s better, and physically, by making a commitment to running and putting things in my body that are good for me. Or, in the case of my acne-prone flesh, doing what it takes to feel pretty, literally, in my own skin.
And you know what? Sitting there, naked at the Soho House, feeling the sweat everywhere, I felt so incredibly refreshed… and beautiful.
That feeling, though wasn’t just because of a toned body or a complexion that’s clearing up, it was also from dedicating myself — and the pages of this blog — to learning how to love myself for who I am, regardless of what I have and what I don’t. Who I’m dating or not dating. If everything is perfect or everything is unsure. I still deal with bouts of insecurity and moments where I doubt anything I see — but finally, I’m really starting to see the changes I’ve worked for since I started this journey. The transformations aren’t huge breakthroughs or major events that I’ll remember the date of, but it’s moments like that one, that make me see how far I’ve come.
While I will always have a long way to go, I really couldn’t imagine a better ending to my much-needed time with New York than catching the train home, relishing in my daring bare of a day.