For our 2nd Living Out Loud project: As I wrapped my hands around a cup of blueberry flavored java this morning in the local cafe, I thought back to all those times well meaning friends and relatives would tell my parents that letting me drink coffee as a kid would stunt my growth. As an adult, I take satisfaction in the hard clunk of the car seat as it slams into the furthest position from the steering column so I can slide all 35" of my inseam into the car.
My babysitter (who was 5' tall and very round) called me her long-legged jay bird and it always made me smile. My whole childhood was filled with physically challenging tasks that my 6'3" father never told me I shouldn't attempt. I thought all kids could move a wheelbarrow of bricks or lift their family dog. To this day I won't own a pet that I can't carry upstairs on my own, which puts my limit at about 80 pounds as long as the dog doesn't fight it.
My high school dance teacher Mr. Watson harped on me to always drop my shoulders so I could show off my long neck. I am eternally grateful that I took all those years of dance because while I never have been particularly lithe (I like food too much), I'm extremely comfortable in my body and know its capabilities. I learned to not hunch forward to make myself shorter. I grew to appreciate the length of my limbs and the way all 175 pounds of me fit together. I never worried about telling folks how much I weighed because I felt like I was in a different bracket than all my shorter friends. It was like telling someone my age in dog years; they couldn't relate.
Somewhere in college, I began to revel in being tall. I slowly realized there were short women who had to pull the car seat forward every time after their husband drove it. I discovered there were people who didn't know what was on top of their fridge (let alone could reach it). There are people who have to find a sturdy chair to change a lightbulb instead of just reaching up to the light. And in a way, I felt a bit of pity for them. I don't necessarily agree with Randy Newman's declaration that "short people got no reason to live," but his quote has certainly stuck with me every time I pull the turkey pan down without climbing all over the counter.
Since most people are on eye level or shorter, I always feel (perhaps erroneously) that I could kick 90% of the world's ass. I'm not easily intimidated. Every time I load some giant purchase from Costco into my car where my arms barely reach around it, I want to high five myself and give a little Marine "hoo-wah!". Take that ridiculously heavy and awkward box!
In the last five years, I've greatly expanded my collection of comfortable high heels because I think I walk much sexier in heels. I'm 72 luxurious inches tall in bare feet. Even being 6' and not 5'11" puts me in a new category of those whose height starts with 6. In heels, I stretch up to 6'2" or 3" tall. Men double-take when I walk past.
My body has evolved over the years. I used to be about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, and a recent doctor's visit shows I've pudged up to 178.2 pounds from my perennial 175 pounds of the last 10 years. I've had some pretty regrettable haircuts as I have experimented with my coif. My belly usually is covered in spots from my insulin pump infusion sites that I never had before 2000. I've had stretch marks on my thighs since puberty hit at 15. Laser surgery removed the need for glasses but I still chew on my cuticles until they're painful. But there are many things that won't change any time soon if at all. I've got magnificently straight teeth, amazingly long prehensile toes and the world's most petite ears. And I will always be tall. No matter other parts of me will sag or wrinkle, there will still be 6 feet of me. And I will always turn heads.