Learning Lessons the Hard Way (Again)

I have this awesome-ish job as a reviewer for an online fitness website. Awesome in that I get to take all kinds of cool classes for free in return for short reviews about these classes that then get published online. Ish because should I fall in love with the class or instructor I am not actually receiving any cash from this job that would fund my abilities to attend these classes regularly. Still I trudge all over the city to take new dance, yoga, and Pilates classes being offered at various studios, because it keeps me in shape for free, and it’s fun. A few hours prior to one of these classes I decided to try out these new facial cleansing towelettes. It’s summer, I get sweaty and sticky, and my face is breaking out like it did when I was thirteen. Solution, facial cleansing towelettes. I open the package and rub one all over my face. It smells weird, florally. My face starts stinging moments later. Having sensitive skin I should know this is the sign to stop and wash the residue from the towelette off my face IMMEDIATELY. I stupidly think, “This must really be working.” Plus, this is a brand that touts itself as all natural and half their line is fucking baby products. The package even says 99.1% natural! Ten minutes later, face still stinging, I go into the bathroom to find a face staring back at me that I do not recognize. I have what ranks up there as one of the worst rashes I have ever had on my face. Even my eyelids are tomato red because the stupid package said it was safe to use around my eye area. The package also lists natural fragrance in very small print on the back…I know better than to put anything on my face with fragrance, natural or not. For those of you who had any doubt, crying only makes one’s face red and puffy, not a good idea when your face is already tomato red and puffy. While this is embarrassing, I might not be quite so mortified if I hadn’t spent a good chunk of my prepubescent and early teenage life covered in hives. Staring at my face in the mirror I am instantly thrown back to the time when I auditioned for a new dance company at the age of thirteen. Nervous and anxious, because auditions are nerve wracking, I took off my t-shirt so I would be appropriately clad in a leotard and tights only to reveal hives all over my chest, back, and arms where the t-shirt had been touching my skin. My body’s silent reminder that no one is supposed to have an easy time transitioning from beautiful, innocent child to obnoxious, know-it-all asshole teenager. So here I am, at twenty-nine, getting ready to go to an adult tap class feeling like that hive covered thirteen year old all over again. The line from the movie Carrie, “They’re all gonna laugh at you” is running through my head at this point. I had a charming boyfriend when I was a teenager who used to say that to me when I did something stupid, which basically meant he said it all the time. I try to be rational and think of all my options. I cannot reschedule class at this late point in time. I have to leave my apartment. I cannot gob on makeup to cover up this mess. I would just look like a modern day Jezebel ready to shuffle off to Buffalo in this adult tap class. Ice! I grab an ice pack from the freezer and apply it to my face. The swelling goes down and I simply look like I have a bad sunburn. It’s summer…that is acceptable. I live in New York City; no one is going to pay any attention to a woman with a sunburned face. And so, I have conquered those thirteen year old fears of inadequacy, of being laughed at for being different…oh hell, no I haven’t. I just sucked it up and walked out the door praying no one commented on the fact that I really should use sunscreen like all those helpful strangers in my neighborhood did when I got that really bad sunburn last month.


About djunapassman

I teach yoga, write, and edit. I live in a Brooklyn neighborhood that is changing faster than I can, or care to, keep up with. Manhattan still beckons me to her island a few subways stops away, reminding me of when I lived amongst her daily hustle and bustle.
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