Up before 6:00 am, I dress in the dark: black turtleneck dress, jean jacket, colorful scarf. In Katie's dimly lit bathroom, I put on makeup and slide red dangly Our Lady of Guadalupe earrings into my ears. I wrestle myself into a "moderate support" undergarment that permanently alters my respiratory system. Seriously, it's an iron band around my midriff, restricting my ability to breathe. Heck, it's restricting my ability to think. But as my friend Deb Karnes says, "Beauty is pain."
I can't find my black socks in the dark, but the dress is long. I grab white gym socks and step into kicks for the trip to the car. Paula sits in the parking lot across the street, cold and forlorn. I dig around in her back seat for my boots and the black slip I almost forgot and had to go back for Sunday morning as I was leaving KC. It turns out to be a short slip rather than the long one I meant to grab. Oh well.
Standing behind the open car door, I step into the slip. When I sit down in the driver's seat, my dress settles onto my legs, revealing a ridge where the moderate control garment ends and my unrestrained flesh bursts toward freedom. And blood flow.
Stopping at Kinkos to make some copies, I step into black-and-red cowboy boots and stride toward the door. Below the Fed Ex logo, the reflection reveals that the dress is neither as long nor the boots as tall as I thought. The white gym socks shine like a thousand suns with every step.
Next stop: Target. I buy black tights and go into the restroom to put them on. Not wanting to put my bare feet on the floor of a public restroom, I stand on the discarded gym socks to slither into the tights. I'm relieved to find that the lycra tights smooth out some of the sausage-bursting-from-its-skin effect of the moderate control garment. Progress.
At the sink, I look up and really see myself for the first time. Horrors! The makeup I used was my summer color. My winter-pale face looks like it's been painted with orange Kool-Aid. After a few moments of desperate consideration, I pull the white gym socks from my purse (yes, the same ones that so recently protected my feet from the floor of a Target bathroom) and buff away a layer or two of orange. I may catch some dread disease, but surely the pustules won't erupt until after the big meeting.
I drive to the office complex and sit in the parking lot, watching minutes tick down to the appointed time. I would sigh, but my ribs can't expand that much. Instead, I huff and drag myself from the car.