Monday, January 22, 2018


I started looking for it at sixty, signs that my body was starting to decline. Really at fifty-nine but I wasn’t looking for decline that year, I was semi-anticipating death. Mama died when she was fifty-nine. She had cancer; had finally lost an almost twenty year fight. I was healthy—I’d had every imaginable test the month I turned fifth-nine. Everything was fine. Still I thought, kinda, that I could die that year.

I didn’t and sixty was a great year. Maybe I wasn’t lunging quite as deep in warrior pose at yoga class but otherwise it was damned good. A very dear friend gave me a belated sixtieth birthday trip to NYC that summer—plays, great food and old friends. And I lost the last of the weight I’d gained from steroids I took thirteen before ago following spine surgery. A friend asked me to test his new weight lost product. It worked. I lost that ten (the steroids had added twenty), plus ten more. Was down to a weight I hadn’t been since I was forty. It made me flirty. I immediately connected with my girl. I didn’t know how to find her in a fuller body—as much as I’ve tried to embrace my plumper self; I hadn’t gotten there yet. Lean, not thin, is what feels good to me.

Nothing changed until sixty-three, my blood pressure spiked and I couldn’t bring it down with diet and natural supplements. I hated being a cliché—a black woman with hypertension. Hated that something in my body was so out of wack that it could only be controlled with daily medicine.

At sixty-five I was thicker, nine maybe ten pounds, close to five pounds more than I swore would be my maximum when I’d dropped the weight five years before.  I was taking yoga, three, four times a week—hot yoga at that, dripping sweat after class, wet down to my ropa interior. I wasn’t eating more and still I was expanding. Shit, could I never have a glass or two of wine, a small bag of chips, the occasional dessert without weighing more than I thought was ideal? I comforted myself, or tried to, with, but I’m firm. The thighs were a little juicy but taming them had always been a rough.

My right knee started to bother me mid sixty-six. Diet and exercise can help with lots of things but not your joints. And joints get a workout in this town, cobblestones and uneven sidewalks. Curb heights vary. I started cabbing more, going to yoga less. After a few months my knee stopped bothering me or did it just recede to the background because another pain took center stage? Nerve pain. I’d been down that road before. It had ended with spine surgery and I wasn’t doing that again. By that time I went to the doctor I wasn’t doing any yoga, was hardly walking and was big as a house.

Body breakdown—this wasn’t supposed to happen to me—miss organic, miss keep-the-body-moving (African dance until I had to give up aerobics, yoga after that). I was older now, didn’t want to undertake another big fight. But what was the alternative? I put on my boxing gloves.