It’s a distasteful emotion. Who wants to admit they envy the cut arms of so-and-so? But I do. That is one thing I’ll never have but wish I did. Firm, muscular arms. A smaller nose, maybe as long as it is now and with the same bump, but not so bulbous at the end. And a more angular face. Not one that gets jowly as I age.
I remember a game I used to play in my head where I’d give myself one thing I could change about my appearance. Would it be more height? Straight hair? Thicker eyebrows? I did this when I was 20-something and insecure, when the best thing I had going for me (in my opinion) was a beauty mark on my chest.
I still try to get cut arms, still use weights three times a week, still think that maybe, miraculously, they will tighten up before my eyes, like in time-lapse photography.
When I was a girl and we got Sears, Montgomery Wards, and JC Penney catalogs, I would go through the toy section and pick one item on each page that I could have. Just one. I allowed myself to cache my picks–if I skipped a page, didn’t want anything it had to offer, I could pick two items on another page.
I especially liked Easy Bake ovens and tall dolls with blue eyes and brown hair. I skipped bicycles and sometimes rocking horses. In my perfect world, I had a miniature kitchen in my room and a little crib for my make-believe daughter. How did I end up becoming so not-domestic now?
I was my most envious when I was in high school. Leanne S. got a jeep, white with a convertible top, in 11th grade, and I dreamed of driving that thing in summer. The whole notion of a jeep, rugged and carefree, fit completely who I wanted to be. I envied her parents who slipped her money with, at the most, a sort of disgusted look.
Dad always made a big deal out of giving me money. It was a process. First he said nothing, then he complained, then he took out his wallet and looked through it slowly and carefully, and finally he handed me the money, but reluctantly, like he might pull the bill back just as my fingers made contact. His final final step was to pull out the miniature spiral notebook from his breast pocket, open to the current page and note in his teeny-tiny handwriting the amount he’d given me.
Note to red Ravine Readers: This Writing Practice is related to the Topic of Envy posted for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. For background and inspiration about Envy, read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and the piece The Case of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez: Is It Envy Or Earned?
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a widespread assumption that Envy is an emotion. Other posts that might help jog the memory when writing about tough or secretive emotions are Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings and WRITING TOPIC – EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY.
To enter the ENVY contest and learn how to participate, go to the Contest Submission Guidelines. There is no fee to enter. You will be competing for an Amazon Kindle and a chance to have your creative work featured in a groundbreaking new documentary film. Deadline is August 15th!