This is When I Feel Beautiful

  1. The first steps out of the shower: smelling like lavender and cocoa butter, bare feet making little imprints in the soft bathroom rug, hair long and dripping down my back, my face naked and flushed in the foggy mirror.
  2. After I pitch a strikeout: beads of sweat running down my forehead, dirt under my fingernails, salty sunscreen on my cheeks, muscles flexed and strong.
  3. When my father gives me cheek kisses: clad in his paint-stained sweatpants and Chicago hat, double-checking the gas and wiper fluid levels, my trunk packed with all the college necessities for another year.
  4. Those first few minutes after the alarm: my hair fanning out on the pillow, arms sprawled, body nestled between quilt and blanket, skin warm to the touch.
  5. Standing next to my little sister: our arms intertwined, her long, carmel hair mixing with my chesnut curls, our identical root beer eyes and mirrored smiles.
  6. When I put the pen down at the end of a story: the completion, the satisfaction, the crisp paper underneath my fingertips, the words flowing together in a way that’s both intentional and magical.
  7. Bare toes on asphalt: bringing me back to my six-year-old days, licking Tweety Bird ice cream off my fingers and playing soccer in the corner cul-de-sac.
  8. An electronic song on the radio: summer air, sunglasses on, windows down, weaving through city traffic, bass turned high.
  9. Trying on dresses with my mother: her sincere eyes surveying each fabric, the soft touch of her hand on the zipper, tears of pride just barely hiding against hazel irises.
  10. Post-run: my cheeks red, chest heaving, every muscle fiber pulsing with blood and energy.
  11. Catching that look on a boy’s face: the one I’m not supposed to see, the mix of awe and pride, his smile involuntary and geniune.
  12. When I feel small: the ledge of the skydeck, the seat of an airplane, watching city traffic, looking at the stars and being a tiny speck amidst it all.
  13. My dog running towards me: tail wagging, tongue happily and lazily hanging from his mouth, making circles around my legs before tucking himself into bed on my blankets.
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