Every year I begin to feel more and more like a bear. In New York, there really is no spring, or hasn’t been lately, and then, like a switch gone off, it’s hot. There I emerge, groggy, fat, pale, and coming out of my hibernation of winter. Suddenly, all around me are girls who I thought lived in Manhattan too, yet, possess the tan-taught bodies of Miami residents. How are their legs so tan when there hasn’t been a day warmer than forty? I look down at my pale tree trunks staring back at me. There they are in all their bluish-hairy glory. The albino pins of someone who literally hasn’t seen the sun in over six months. I leave the house cursing myself every first spring day. Always, always the spring jeans feeling tighter than I remember, with just a bit of love handle hanging over, an angry reminder of too many cold nights of gnocchi gorgonzola. Yet, I seem to be the only woman suffering from the painful, punishment of a very cold winter.
Girls on the street all have dark brown legs, as if they have been waiting and preparing for this day for months. Why didn’t I get the memo? Most of my snowy hours were spent in long underwear, the slightly warmer months in running tights. Both outfits with just an elastic band, nothing to remind me of the copious amounts of carbohydrates I’ve been consuming to keep warm and fulfilled. Not the other girls though. Cute spring outfits at the ready, shorty shorts and booties that match their skinny bodies. They have been waiting for this moment, to remove the layers and display all their hard work from Physique 57. Not, me, not this wildabeast grizzly bear.
I haven’t stepped in a gym or even put on a sports bra since 2004. Nope, I’ve been hiding up in my apartment, diligently ordering in my beloved flannel pajamas, and watching countless hours of reality TV. Spring seemed a far cry when I debated ordering burritos or pizza with the polar vortex as my culinary guide. But, why does the future never dawn on me? I’m a smart girl. I know that someday I’m going to have to be in public again. Yet, the thought never crosses my mind when I’m flipping channels and double fisting kettle chips with a hoagie. I once even took the liberty of stopping on a channel, I believe it was called something to the degree of “Latin Dance Fever.” I paused, I watched the Zumba. I thought, “boy that looks hard, might have to try that sometime before spring.” But, never, never did I think to actually participate in said exercise; I merely watched as a spectator.
And here, alas, I find myself on the first warm spring day. Warm is a strong word, and by warm I mean sixty. But, to us New Yorkers, it may as well be in the upper eighties. There is no bite in the air, the restaurants have their chairs on the sidewalk, and here I stand. Hairy, fat, and non too happy. A grizzly bear yawning the winter away looking at all the spring chickens out to play. I lumber through the streets, slow in my movements, my joints still not used to walking too fast and without snow boots on. Hunched and furry I paw through the streets of Nolita feeling like a beast. This, this is my world, welcome.