A Little Person in a Big Person World
I am very tall.
About 5'9 and a half.
That's pretty tall.
But did you know that my height changes? That I get taller or smaller quickly? Not just with the 2 inches that a high heel can add, but in really noticable ways. Just like that, my height can change.
Wednesday morning I felt awful. I felt like I had been run over by a truck labelled "Guilt and Responsibility", I had been mowed down by wheels with mud on the relationship mudflaps. It was raining and chilly outside, and I had to go to London for the day, and standing at the edge of the train platform I felt so small and sad, so alone and depressed. My mood overspilled onto my face and I started crying a bit, standing on the platform in my skirt and with my briefcase, looking like a little girl playing at being in a big girl's world. I looked down at my feet and realized how small I was.
I had shrunken to about a foot high.
I was so small that I was disappearing.
When the train arrived I had to battle with the steps, which were half my height. I sat down on a seat, leaving acres of space, and a man in a pressed pin-striped suit tries to sit down on me. He hadn't even noticed me, my little legs swinging and hitting the edge of the seat, one high heel dangerously dangling off my foot.
"Excuse me." I squeak. "I'm sitting here."
He snarls at me in annoyance and moves away.
I shrink a few more inches in response.
The train ride goes quickly enough-I feel too inadequate to get out my book which is half my size. I feel too small to check my phone, which even though the train had been dipping in and out of mobile coverage, I knew it would be silent and unloving. I felt so tired and so alone, sitting in my little space on my great big chair, a chair whose pattern and fabric is cutting my legs into scissor-pattern shapes.
When we get to London the battle out the train doors makes me even smaller, as men with pointy umbrellas and unfurled attitudes push me out of the way and out the door. Some of them even open the train doors and start running before the train has stopped, and it makes me feel so forlorn. I have to fight my way down the grooved train steps, looking at the ash and dirt and stickiness that graces the gaps in the steps. People's detritus from a life less lived, a moment less loved.
I make my way to the tube, getting jostled by people and feeling as large as the specks on the concrete floors, painted with that flecky affect people use to disguise the filth. Gum becomes a ticking time bomb waiting to trap a little person like me in the teeth-combed concrete edges. A cigarette butt becomes a building I have to hold my breath around.
Waiting for the tube, I stand in utter exhaustion and look to my right. A man in a camouflaged T-shirt and olive green trousers is standing on the edge of the tube platform, openly crying. He's not embarrassed, he doesn't care that a room full of commuters is around him. I would offer him a kleenex but I know, somehow, he just wants to be alone. He's collapsing inside of himself on the edge of the platform, angrily wiping his running eyes, and I realize as I watch him that I have grown a few inches.
I have grown, maybe because I am the only person in the room that has seen him, and that knows how he hurts.
Even so, the voice announcing "Mind the gap!" at the tube is ridiculous-truthfully, it's more like "Mind the Grand Canyon!"
I get to work and am so tired and small still, that going through the turnstiles at the office means I bang my head on the silver bar and annoy the security guard. I walk into the meeting room and must have a face like thunder, as the group regards me and offers me coffee or a smile. A new vendor representative walks in and introduces himself.
"Hi, I'm Mark Elmo."
This piques my diminuative interest, and I chime in like Ralph Mouse: "As in, 'Tickle-Me'?" I chirp.
The room laughs. Mark does too. He nods. "I rue the day that toy came out, my mates did nothing but refer to that damn toy."
One of my colleagues, Alan, is laughing, and he says. "That's our Helen. Most people would only think things. She'll actually say them."
And I grow another six inches, feeling part of a gang. A crowd. "Our Helen". I made people laugh. I made people laugh.
The meeting commences and my phone comes to life-a nice text message oozes in from Mr. Y, and I thump my head on the table as I grow another foot. I rub my noggin for a while, pleased to finally see over the table, at the expanse of laptops (except mine, still ill) and a projector that illuminates each little piece of dust in the room. Another text an hour later comes in from Mr. Y which is even kinder, and I ease up again in size, no longer stressing about losing a shoe from my teeny feet.
During an afternoon break, I dash into an empty conference room and make a phone call to one of my oldest friends (we go back almost 6 years, which I realize makes me a bit sad and pathetic that this is the oldest friend I have). He lives in Atlanta, and we once were so close that we could finish each other's sentences. We have inroads of personal jokes, and I miss him a great deal. I call him Mighty Mouse. He calls me Shmoo. I have no idea how we got these nicknames, I only know that they are definitely the fruit of one of our drink-ups. I talk to him, laughing with him, and find out that he's coming to England in the next week or two, so I will get to see him. And even more so, Mr. Y will get to meet someone from my life, and I can't wait for them to meet. It's so important to me to link my worlds together-proof that I can outrun the crazy relay, that I have a past, a present and a future that can and will be meshed.
I grow so tall I can turn the lights in the room off and on with ease, easily able to reach the light switch.
As I head home, I still am only about two-thirds my height, but I have bought things to make a nice meal of moussaka for Mr. Y and I, and I am hopeful that we are going to be good and loving. A man on the tube catches my eye and smiles, and I smile back. As I exit the tube, swinging my Sainsbury's bag, he stops me with a tap on the shoulder.
"You have a beautiful smile. I'd really like to see you again, can I have your phone number?" he asks, juggling a briefcase at his side.
"Thanks, but I think my boyfriend wouldn't like that." I reply, smiling.
He apologizes and I head for my train, and realizes that I have grown again-at the flattery of being told I have a nice smile, and the fact that I do have a boyfriend, one that I care about very much.
I get on the train, nearly whole-sized. My feet reach the ground with ease, my long embarassing colt-like legs spilling all over the floor. I can't see the grooves of the train steps, I can't stress about the gaps. I have spent a day feeling so utterly small and horrible, but things are getting better. Things are improving. And soon, that night even, I would be fully-grown again, thanks to a very sweet man in my house.
PS-Beth's Carnival or Recipes is continuing again, so read below for my moussaka recipe. I like to up the weird factor on the recipe collections :)
1 can green lentils
570ml/1 pint water
4 tbsp oil, preferably olive
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
110g/¼lb celery, washed and chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
30g/2tsp dried oregano/parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
350g/12oz or 2 medium aubergines, washed and sliced
For the sauce:
1 tbsp flour
225ml/8fl oz milk
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 small egg
2.5g/½ tsp mustard powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g/3oz grated cheddar cheese.
1. preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, celery and garlic gently so that they remain translucent.
3. Then add the canned tomatoes and canned lentils (with their juices) and cook for a further 15 minutes, mixing well. Season with oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Remove to a seperate bowl.
4. Add 2 tbsp of oil to the frying pan and fry the aubergine slices until soft, turning them over constantly. (You may need a little extra oil for this.)
5. Put the slices onto a piece of kitchen paper to drain and let them cool.
6. Grease a 1.75L/3pt ovenproof dish and put in a layer of lentil and mushroom mixture, then the layer of aubergines.
7. Next make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
8. Pour on the milk and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring constantly.
9. Simmer for 5 minutes and then allow to cool.
10. Beat in the egg and season the sauce well with mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
11. Pour the sauce over the top of the casserole and sprinkle over the grated cheese.
12. Bake for 40 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Serve piping hot.
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 'A Little Person in a Big Person World' from Everyday Stranger.
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