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Chapter 5: A Compromise of Sorts

Dear Laura gave me a lasting gift, for every time I tried it on, it fit perfectly. Every time I stood tall instead of hunched over, every time I held my head high with my shoulders back, I felt whole and fine, like I’d come home.

The boys were still scared shitless, of course, especially the ones I was inclined to obsess about: the blond-haired, blue-eyed trumpet player who stood all of about five foot five, and the upper-class football player/track star who, although he had better bulk than the trumpet player, was still a good inch and a half shorter than I. But I digress…

I began to be ruled by two conflicting imperatives. They went like this:

1. Stand tall, don’t be ashamed, throw your shoulders back and flaunt it.

2. Don’t be too big to play. Don’t take up space. Keep it small and maybe you won’t be alone.

Eventually marriage offered me the perfect compromise, one I deliberately chose. I fell madly in love with someone who offered me the best of both worlds. He was of average height, which for some reason I preferred, but he wasn’t scared or put off by my stature. He was mystified that it bothered me at all. This gave me the green light, if I wanted, to throw my shoulders back and flaunt it.

On the other hand, he generated a large presence. He took up a lot of space in a room. He was energetic and confident, enthusiastic and goal-oriented. He was going places, and he wanted me to come along. And best of all, he was perceptive as a tree stump. He didn’t get subtlety, nor did he feel inclined to read minds. Not one to ask, “what’s wrong, honey?” he was easy to hide from if I chose. I remember when the advantages of such a relationship began to dawn on me. I could be adored, but not scrutinized. I could go ahead and stand tall, but be as small and invisible as I chose to be, whenever it suited me. I remember thinking, “I could hide anything from this guy. Huh…” as the wheels began to turn…

Poor guy, he was set up from the start to play the foil in this inner drama of mine. He never stood a chance. Luckily he’s made of some pretty tough stuff.

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