A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I were wrapped around each other on his couch playing Mario Kart. After I wooped his ass in MooMoo Meadows, he paused the game and set his controller down. He placed his arms under my legs, casually draped over his, and said “Your legs are beautiful.”
“No they aren’t. You should’ve seen them 15 years ago. 10 years ago. Hell, even 5 years ago they were beautiful. But today? Today they’re on the verge of turning 35. They’re soft, fluffy, and not at all what they used to be. Look, I’ll show you a picture. Do you see this? This is what my legs used to look like, they’re awful now. Awful.”
For the last year or so I’ve been staring at my legs in the mirror in horror as I’ve watched them change. They’re droopier, mushier, lumpier than the legs they used to be. My legs are no longer the things that could inspire hit songs or draw comparisons to living legends. They’re just legs that are getting old. The rate at which they’re aging is astounding. I’ve been so convinced of the aesthetic demise of my lower limbs that when my boyfriend said they were beautiful, I just didn’t believe him.
He frowned like I’d just slapped him, then he stared in his lap and whispered, “But I like them now. They’ve carried you all this way. And the person I know now is beautiful.”
Well. He’s a keeper.
Also, he’s right.
From the moment they could toddle around, my legs have done some beautiful things. They’ve jumped off merry-go-rounds and powered hours and hours on playground swing sets. They’ve kicked soccer balls and glided through swim lanes and pushed my boat-mates – all leading to athletic triumph. They’ve walked hundreds of miles in the Southwestern wilderness. One year they ran four marathons. They’ve carried me to cupcake stands and music stages and job interviews. My legs have helped me stand tall on stage and at work. They’ve broken when I pushed them too hard, but have never failed to bounce back. They have sat through so many meetings and lectures and plane rides. They are my favorite cradle for a laptop. A perfect napping spot for a dog or a man or a nephew. They’ve been bronzed by the sun and made pale again by winter. My legs have jumped off cliffs and powered bikes and climbed rocks. They’ve wrapped themselves around every boy I’ve ever loved. They’re the first to take a beating when I fall. And they pick me up every single time.
This morning I woke up and I was 35 years old.
While we were out celebrating the occasion, my boyfriend said it again, “you’re legs are so beautiful.”
This time, I knew exactly what to say. “Thanks!”