Doing Without

This is a piece I worked on in August 2011, at the Star Island Writers Workshop with writers and teachers Joyce Maynard and Robert Bausch. Joyce taught me the value of short, concice pieces – that sometimes, a rambling beginning squanders other stories that are yet to be written. The lesson in this piece was, “Get to it!”

The story stems from my journey of losing a significant amount of weight over the past few years. People often comment that they couldn’t stand to be deprived of certain foods over the long haul…but when I was extremely overweight, I experienced deprivation of a different kind.

Cold weather comes early in Michigan. By October, it was time to unpack the heavy coats and mittens. I never knew when the first skiff of snow would arrive.

I opened the closet door and pulled out my favorite coat – black wool with velvet lapels. I remembered then that the button had pulled off sometime last spring – not the way a button comes off when a thread comes loose, but actually ripped away the fabric underneath as it strained to hold the coat closed across my belly. I examined the torn spot and realized that there wasn’t space to move the button over any further. Besides, when I tugged the coat around my body, the front didn’t quite come together.

The only option was my raincoat. Its raglan sleeves were more forgiving across the mounds of fat on my back and sides. If I chose carefully, it would fit over a sweater and still button. But the raincoat didn’t have a warm lining, not even the zip out kind. So it couldn’t possibly work for the entire winter.

Or could it?

I like to think it was the thrifty side of me that spoke at that moment, reminding me that a new winter coat was expensive. But the truth is, I realized that a new coat would force me down the rack at Macy’s to the size 20’s…or 22’s.

I took a slow breath.

No. Not yet.

Not till I have to.

Who knows? Maybe it will be a mild winter.

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3 Responses to Doing Without

  1. Delaine Zody says:

    It’s funny Lynn (not haha funny, but puzzling funny) that I never pictured you as a heavy person in all those years we knew each other in the Women’s Forum. In my mind’s eye, you were very blond, and thin, sort of wiry, and always moving. Reading this piece, it’s as though you are writing about someone else, a piece of fiction.

  2. Lynn–what a moving piece–I have stood there with the same quandry during my own honeymoon when the Leather coat I bought that was two sizes too big suddenly no longer buttoned…there are many pictures of me on that honeymoon in that coat that was straining across my belly…I teared up at the memory but also at the thought of you too standing there in that dilema. What a journey it has been!
    Much luv!

  3. Lesley says:

    I can very much relate to this post! Sadly, I can remember trying to make do with sweaters and fleeces during a Minnesota winter when I was in grad school, because I had no idea where to buy a warm coat that would fit me. So sad.

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