In praise of my legs

I don’t know how it has happened that two weeks in a row, my posts deal with my appearance. But lately I have been thinking (and talking) about my legs and my relationship to them, as a result of having hurt my left hip and knee in training for a half-marathon. So, this was on my mind.

My legs are very long.

Even before I grew to my full height of 5’10”, my legs were longer than my five-foot-nine-inches-tall mother’s. Today, as a grown woman, my long legs begin at my wide hips. My thighs are thick, powerful, and dotted with pale, puckered stretch marks. My knees are scarred from falls and a surgery. I have long, narrow, size-eleven feet.

My legs, I have not always loved you well. I do not stretch you as much as you need. I resent you for not being more magical, for not being shorter. When people ask, “wait, are you taller than your husband?” I don’t just feel annoyed at them — I sometimes feel a bit ashamed of you. As though there is anything wrong with your glorious length, your strength, your size. As though my long legs are not gifts from my gorgeous, tall, wonderful parents. I glare down at you, thighs, as you spread out upon a chair or a bench, as though I am expecting you to remain the same size always, as though I wish you were two plastic cylinders and not muscle and fat and bone. I run you too hard. In March, I ran you in crappy shoes for three weeks because I didn’t have time to go to the running store and I didn’t have patience. I fail to ice you. I expect you to take me on ten mile runs, to carry me over uneven ground, to tangle with the legs of my lover, to help me lift heavy boxes, to dance at weddings, to be a surface for books and journals and my friends’ heads as I comb their hair with my fingers. And in return, I ignore you. I scoff at your roundness, your softness. I push my fist into you when I’m frustrated. Oh, legs. I am sorry.

Not this time. This time I will do better. I hear you, hip and knee and shin. I am stretching you out, I am trying to be patient. I am letting you finally rest. I am laying ice on your sore joints.

I am sorry, my beautiful, strong legs. From now on, I will do my best to take care of you. I will let you rest. And this weekend, if you’re up for it, let’s run a race together, okay? I’ll listen, while we’re out there. I’ll drink enough water and eat enough food so that you have the energy you need. And when we are done, I will thank you. I will stretch you and ice you and let you rest.

Thank you for all the beautiful hours we’ve spent together in the woods. Thank you for taking me out into open spaces, where my mind can soar as you carry us along.

I love you.

I am not much of a doodler, but I felt moved to draw while I worked on this blog post. My glorious legs are here, too, soaking up some sun and resting on the stack of winter tires that elegantly sits on our deck.