Illustration by Popularium. Source images XL, Columbia Records
“I want to look at you for a minute,” Adam tells me, as I lie naked on the bed.
I blush. “Why?”
He flips me over onto my hands and knees. I can hear him drop to the ground behind me. “I’m an artist. I have an appreciation for people who are somewhat heavier.”
I don’t have a problem saying it. I’m not obese and I’m not at risk for a heart attack and I’ve never had any difficulty catching a dick. My thighs could bend steel and my ass is the byproduct of a combination of squats and ice cream. That’s who I am; and I own it. At least most of the time.
But I wasn’t always this comfortable with my appearance. Even at my thinnest, which was somewhat unhealthy for my 6‘3” stature, I would look at myself in the mirror and feel repulsed. This resulted in a bout of bulimia nervosa, an addiction to Adderall, menthol cigarettes for dinner, and obsessive, seven-mile runs every day.
I was depressed. Suicidal a time or two. I felt like I didn’t fit in because there was something wrong with the way I looked. I was lonely.
At the time, writing had lost its catharsis. I couldn’t get the words that I needed to say out of my head and onto paper. At some point I turned to music, stumbling upon a new artist.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard her sing. Clouds parted. Winter turned to spring. The grass grew with haste, reaching to be nearer to the sound. Her voice — her bluesy, soul-filled, beautiful rasp — flipped me on my head, spun me around, and eventually taught me to look at myself in a brand new way.
Her name was Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, and I had never felt more connected to someone in my life.
From the first time I laid eyes on Adele, I saw a part of myself in her. She was a goddess who stepped into the spotlight just as she was — heavyset, yet arresting — and shared her talent, regardless of anyone’s opinion of the way she looked. That was the quality I admired most — her ability to give zero shits about what anyone else thought of her.
I even saw her live from the first row at the Toyota Center in Houston, where I bawled from the moment she entered from beneath the stage singing “Hello”. The entire night I could only stare at her, wanting to tell her how she’d taught me that everyone gets their heart broken, that not every single love is requited, that it is okay to cry. I wanted to tell her thank you for being there to pull the toothbrush out of the back of my mouth and encourage me to put down the pills — to start jogging and putting into words every last thing I was feeling.
But I couldn’t tell her any of that. What I could do, as she sang “When We Were Young”, was look her in the eyes from right before the stage, and mouth I love you. And when she gave me a sheepish smile through the tears her own song had brought forth, she mouthed it back to me.
I love you.
I have an appreciation for people who are somewhat heavier.
I can feel my face falling as though I’ve just had a stroke. But as Adam kneels behind me and starts giving me a rim job, my anger subsides.
Afterwards, he retires to the balcony to smoke a bowl and I retreat to find wine. We have been seeing each other for three weeks, ever since we were two-thirds of a threesome that was sparked in a grocery store liquor aisle. The relationship is almost purely sexual; still, there is a certain comfort in having him around. Until tonight, that is.
Wine glass in hand, I steal over to the stereo seeking the kind of comfort only Adele can offer. “Daydreamer” takes me back to a time when I believed that the perfect man was a corporeal, attainable creature.
with eyes that make you melt,
he lends his coat for shelter.
Plus, he’s there for you
when he shouldn’t be.
I’m not sure whether to be mad or hurt by Adam’s words. The men we long for — our daydreamers — shouldn’t make comments like that, no matter how well-intentioned they seem.
After Adam leaves, I pick up my iPhone and slide through Facebook. “People You May Know” pops up in the middle of my scroll. I take a moment to peek at the photos and one face stands out — a young man with a perfect jawline and a radiant smile. I know of him. We have many friends in common.
His name is Taylor Kyle.
“Rolling in the Deep” plays over the otherwise quiet bar. Quiet, that is, until I open my mouth to kvetch.
“He said that?” Hope asks, mouth agape as she pours shots.
“Yes,” I reply. “And if he hadn’t done some amazing things with his tongue, I probably would have been very angry.” Hope slides a shot of Fireball across the bar to me as my friend Derek sits next to me, stifling his laughter.
There’s a certain fury burning inside me only dulled by the alcohol I’m pouring over it. Self-esteem is not something one is born with. Self-esteem is a castle built of sand. The mere rotation of the earth can send the entire structure crashing down.
There’s a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch
And it’s bringing me out the dark
The bell over the door chimes and a bit of light from outside escapes into the bar. For a moment, it’s hard to make out who stands in the entryway. Then I see him, and I can’t help but smile.