Well it seems as though 3 things helped me find some new-found friends in NYC this Saturday:
- my skirt (purchased for The Photographer and his motorcycle ride that never came around)
- my boots (had them for years, rarely worn)
- my smile (always had it, need to use it more)
UGH! I dislike those labels. I dislike most labels. I also never identified with the term BBW, because for the longest time I was under the mis-impression that it stood for Big Black Woman. But even once I learned that was incorrect and it stands for Big Beautiful Woman (and BHM is Big Handsome Man), I still felt it didn't apply to me because I believe the term describes a woman who has large size breasts. That's not me. I'm just fat.
But I went to this meeting because I wanted to be around other woman who felt confident and celebratory of who they are, regardless of size. They indicate in their group description that they promote size acceptance in public places. The event on Saturday was to attend a club together after meeting up at a rendezvous point. Going to a club is something else I've always wanted to do but without local friends, has been impossible for me to accomplish.
I thought it would be a little like walking into an imagined addict's meeting. "Hi my name is ... and I'm a big beautiful woman who is avoiding high GI carbs and trying to lose weight." Wrong silly! This was about size acceptance...this was about seeing women (and men) who were many sizes larger than me sitting down, looking fashionable and beautiful, and eating whatever they wanted to order off the menu.
I was nervous. Too nervous to eat really. Like day-before-I-get-on-an-airplane nervous. But I arrived late and so it was easy enough not to make a big deal out of the food selection. And no one but me cared anyway. They were all engrossed in on-going conversations from movies to food to clubs to online dating profiles to the last group's meeting. There were 50, 40, 30somethings and even a 20something. There was an equal split of men and women, which I learned is not always the case. Everyone was really glad the men were there, as all the women agreed we've had enough kvetching amongst ourselves in general.
Everyone was super friendly, asking me all sorts of questions and expressing both surprise and delight that I had traveled in from Jersey.
It came time to decide to go on to the club or go home. As nervous as I was, there was no way I was going home already. An $8 bridge toll, a $6 taxi ride, and a $4 meal, and I was already invested in seeing this night through to the end, especially as the group was able to discount entry into the club.
Walking down a NYC street with a group of people dressed for clubbing, I felt a glimmer of my former self. It came flashing back, walking down to clubs, feeling that excitement, mostly for the music, the lights, and the sense that one could get "lost" in a crowd. I liked the feeling of my boots, and I mentioned that to the woman walking next to me. One of the guys asked how it felt to be out on the streets of NYC as a self-confessed "country girl" and I told him it felt absolutely exhilarating. And it did. The nerves had turned to butterfly excitement.
But I don't know how people do it on a regular basis. The club was so small. Luckily it wasn't packed or too hot. I wouldn't have been able to contain my suffocating feelings that sometimes surface when space and air are constrained. I was actually thrilled it was so cold out and I didn't feel overheated at all in my boots.
Inside the venue, there were many different types of people. Skinny skinnies and inbetweens, and at first I thought "This place is too small for us..." but it wasn't at all. Somehow the hallways and rooms and stairwells absorbed us. I never felt "too large" at any point. No skinny chick had to "squeeze" by me ever. Must have been a strange alignment of the planets. So the group I was in all wandered around in pairs and trios and chattered and gazed about at the scene. It was good, and I started to enjoy the moment, sipping on my drink.
It wasn't long before people came to mingle with us. Mostly men. Some in jackets, some in t-shirts, some in jeans, some in dress pants. Young, old, and all sorts of colors of the rainbow. Some men had nipple piercings you could see through their shirts and some had facial piercings as well. It was rather unique and different from the windowless walls of the scientific environment I spend most of my days. It reminded me of my college days, and I felt young again.
At one point I was surrounded by 3 men, all talking to me. They were talking to each other as well, but clearly only to be friendly. For every answer they gave the other guys, they added a question to me. Basic small talk, but still it felt good for my ego. They didn't seem to mind my size at all and there were plenty of skinnies to talk to instead if they wanted. One guy from Long Island openly lamented that it was a shame I didn't come into the city more often, and that there are no interesting women where he lives (I am not slamming LI, I've never even been there). I wanted to keep moving around so I said I was going to go get another drink, and before you knew it, they were discussing who was going to buy it for me. It turned into a "you get this one, I'll get the next one." Little did they know there wouldn't be a next one. I was driving later; two drinks max.
Their friends came over and eventually took them away or they excused themselves to hit the restroom, which was all fine by me. I wanted to people watch and just absorb it all and you can't really do that when someone's asking you to remember what your reality is like instead.
So as I was leaning against a railing alone and just sort of staring out into the crowd, I felt someone come up next to me and just stand there as well. He was just surveying the crowd as well. Then he said, "So what do you think?" he gestured with his hand to the room.
I looked over at him. Good looking guy, on the thin, lanky side. Late 30s I guessed. I said, "I like it here..."
He smiled and extended his hand to me, telling me his name. I told him mine and he affirmed it was my first time here, blah blah blah. Where am I from what do I do. I smiled best I could, but I was so tired of small talk. He told me he's an actor, and I raised a brow and asked how it was going. He said he's gotten a few good bit roles lately, notably with a major network of quality TV (you'd be able to guess fairly quickly). I congratulated him and tried not to seem too impressed. Actors don't need anymore ego.
A few of "my people" from my group came over, and....I thought that would be the end of that conversation. But no, they knew him. And I watched their interactions with him. Everyone seemed genuinely warm and friendly. Or he's a good actor. Ha.
Anyway, it was time to go already, and The Actor expressed great disappointment in seeing us go. Other people were exchanging contact information. The 20something was passing around her blackberry for people to add in their email addys. After I did and The Actor did, he looked at me and said I should look him up. I said I would, making a mental note to touch base with the 20something outside. It is well noted that he was too casual about it to give it to me himself, but I was also too lazy to pull my own blackberry out of my boot.
Then someone made a comment about getting together next weekend. And voila! like magic, The Actor pulled out invitations to a party this coming Saturday and passed them around. I have to admit in that moment I was quite giddy.
And when he handed one to me, he leaned in super close (like tickle-my-ear-with-your-breath close) and said, "I hope you can come, I'd love to see you again."
First thought: what a great actor!
Second thought: why the hell not!?
And once outside, I collect the email addy he gave the 20something, and then I'm walking down the street to catch a cab in my boots and oh-so-obvious-non-city ways. As I'm waiting for the yellow vehicle to reach me, I finally looked down at the invitation in my hand.
Well, this is a first.
I have been invited to a spank-a-thon.