Real Life. Real News. Real Voices.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Join HuffPost Plus

When We Became Ordinary: An Account of Authentic Love

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.


By now, screens flood in celebrities begging resolution: drop the weight; be fit; get healthy. Don't commit to them.

I don't want you to fail. By that, I mean failure as defined by epic expectations you hold for yourself. Don't do it for your boyfriend. Don't do it for your mother. Don't do it for your girlfriends, or because anyone said so. Don't even do it for your child. Do it for your child, but be clear about why, no exceptions.

Take your time. Don't press any buttons. Don't be expansive. Losing weight is a spiritual issue. The inside work must be done before bodies take shape, to be literal. Many of us are unfit and unhealthy because we've spent lifetimes in servitude to others, and not for the noblest of reasons.

I carried excess weight for more than a decade. I identified love with "pretty." I hid behind big clothing, Dean's lists, exceptional character, career success, anything good to avoid the attention of sticking out. At my lowest weight, I was unhealthy and unhappy. At my highest, the same was true. All the in-between numbers were weighted with simple, formulaic truth: happiness is what we make for ourselves. It is an everyday job.

There was no decisive moment I primed my outward body to health. I worked for years on internal discrepancies. I examined intense, dysfunctional ideas exhausted by impossible expectations I set for myself. Unfortunately, I had them for others, too.

Layers upon layers turned to fat. Fat kept people away. It shut people up. Regarded as sensitive, I was given little grief about it. I hid behind barriers I erected to prevent authentic emotion-regulation.

Invisibility was a silent weapon I concealed with dynamism, dangerous distraction I hid in harmless grips, little lies I told myself that chipped away reality in fragile bytes.

Our best days are utterly ordinary. I never knew that. I never peeked beyond stoic smiles, faces breaking under social media feeds, where everyone seems so icy perfect. Like many, I fell for that glossy version of life. I still do. I lost sight of the ordinary and accepted contentment as played out in photo-cornered snapshots.


We are quick to remember events of triumphant or tragic magnitude. Think of your albums and walls, telling stories. Diplomas, birthday candles, Champagne, laughter and embraces compose our years in review, with winks and nudges to bittersweet times, where we piece it all together: snippets of grief with other events less than celebratory.

Being real and knowing love are habits of ordinary days. My sweetest memories aren't captured in pictures. My most magical days remain under lock and key, in vivid imagery I dare not share with you, or anyone. They are plain moments swathed in magic. To speak of them would undo their healing balm.

In the helium heat of wizardry and airs ascending, a shroud is lifted. Life is ordinary all over again. We're back home to which nothing compares.

On these days we make room to notice authentic acts of love because we stop expecting miracles. Miracles happen in ordinary times, with ordinary people, in ordinary places. There is no waiting for the next big thing. We appreciate how love transforms us. Disposing of perfection and perfection-seeking, we unlock secrets of abiding in the ordinary.


This poem is one I wrote to remind myself of such possibility. I am made new by love, committing to be present every ordinary day.

When We Became Ordinary

By Monica Stevens-Kirby

We were arrows divined in flesh.

Throwing spears, squeaky-sharp, cracking covered carnival balloons,

We tracked through miles of mud and sawdust, lit in filters and body odor.

Shuffling cigarettes underfoot, the air was thick with catcalls.

Green in spots of Pointillist springs, sweetest air lifting us in helium height.

The wind grew fat in whispers and sighs.

Giant bears, Skinner-props, we won with copper coins, bore burdensome on our backs.

Thumb wrestling quarter-coin slots they rigged to beg us to love to lose.

We went diving, together, like stars; silent, unwitnessed, and falling out constantly.

Fixed points of opposing direction, we melted in plainer sand, pieces of pieces in eroding landscape.

We are specks in a universe now.

Driven by skepticism, curious in humility; we gave up answers for our questions.

Idle as nursing home patients, blunted and balmy, we forgot the sadness of our solitude.

Catatonic, dismissive of prospective visits from grandchildren,

We can wait to die because we found contentment.

Antique wares, two against Infinty, overlooked by lookerovers.

They over and over and over look, as we tuck away to sparkling rows and dusty rows of treasure-trove covets.

Ferragamo relic-prizes kept with bits of polish, we're not a thing to look for.

We're not a thing to find.

Display cases hold costume brooches, not worth much, but under glass anyway.

That is what's expected.

Shiny things, magnets to masses, common cravings, and the eye meets level easy.

In this ordinary place, souls collide.

We are not sacred.

We are not cherished but to each other.

We are joyful to give ourselves to love and order.

Bodies meet at morning, and slink into slumbers dark.

It is how our days find light in this solstice of near winter.

Dust will settle, swept beneath Turkish rugs, exotic prizes of a life well lived.

Point out the natural dyes, studied hands that surfed across her loom.

Auction fodder is paid with cash.

Shaky grips slip when touched.

Dryrot in, and we are all tatters.

Threads and spots, faded and plain, we hold at center and sort for scrap.

We know memory, truthful, chemical.

Look into the timing glass when we fed each other bites of cake and buttercream froth.

We see each other, through each other, electric lips, jeweled glances.

Art was lost, and we became ordinary.

In canyon colors of wizened eyes,

In lab-curation molecular structure: coal and pressure and breaking refinement,

In breath-atom sparks of our spoken desires,

We became ordinary.