Foundations— the infrastructure of well being
Since before I knew the questions to ask, or the concepts of construction, government, or business, my curiosity sought to understand the insides. My Bubbie use to say to me, “It is what is on the inside that counts.” I interpreted this to mean, either that the outside didn’t count, or that the inside held all the mystery. Later I’d learn about the concepts of superficial beauty, but my deep connection to infrastructure began with not understanding the nuances of adult speak.
A few years ago, I attended the Citizens Police Academy Class, six weeks of learning the art of policing. On the police website there is a picture of me dressed in bomb gear—gear that weighs three times my own weight and flatters the Pillsbury Doughboy with a look of macho-metal. I volunteered to feel and understand the heat, the claustrophobic sense of maneuvering under stress. I became the comic relief, the Police Doughgirl, waddling along the halls, attempting the impossible, swallowed within a purpose.
Carpenters create from the inside out. The large building constructed in front of my restaurant, which blocked my view and hindered entrance to the parking lot, became my nine-month fascination with the diggers, the pillars of rebar, framing, plumbing, wiring, lifting of walls. The bridge overhead connected my business to the new edifice that now houses the bank where I deposit my meager earnings. I marvel at how easy it is to see only the result and to forget the innards of the world.
As I grew up, I often wondered about size. I believed that my short stature came from my Bubbie, and that my chest also skipped a generation, donning me with breasts twice my frame size and overwhelmingly larger than my mothers. Looking at my small infrastructure, I knew that a problem brewed. How to run and play? What to do with the flopping? I needed a flopper-stopper, an over-the- shoulder-boulder-holder. There was a name for this–a bra.
Bra engineers liken the design of a bra to building a bridge. The challenge of vertical forces of gravity blended with the horizontal earth movement of wind resembles the forces women experience running or turning their body. Not only must a system be designed to enclose and support a semi-solid mass of variable volume and shape, but its adjacent mirror image. Two breasts must function as one.
The vast possibilities of designs multiplied once bra engineers realized the complexities of asymmetrical shapes, that each breast had its own form, and that distributing the weight evenly over the torso not only had to work in the front but in the back as well. Here is a trick my Bubbie taught me. If the band that encircles the body rides up the woman’s back, the bra is too loose. If the band digs into the back, the bra is too tight. Since women can’t see backwards, they can test this by reversing the bra on the torso, so that the cups are in the back. Trust me, if engineers built bridges this way we would have pointed armor that arched toward water.
The wear and tear on our vast system of bridges eventually gives in to gravity. Sagging follows. The inevitable but fixable problem historically is one of infrastructure. Designers created the wonder bra that pushes up, or the jogging bra that flattens down. And it is here that I venture to declare my age, and evoke the adult speak of my Bubbie. We must be concerned with inner beauty, not the superficial aesthetics of fleeting beauty.
While the government wisely uses our taxes to repair roads and bridges, I alone can shore up my droppers. On a mission, I ventured into the lingerie department at Macy’s Department Store. Greeted by thousands of hanging breast bands, I panicked. The history of the feminine mystique lay before me. I was not here to flaunt my cleavage, nor to add volume with padding or jiggle gels. Echoing the voices of my youth and my aged body, I still wanted function instead of fashion. To my delight, I found comfort. Among the offerings I found a cross between a jogging bra and soft formed cup with back clips. It didn’t matter if I was short or tall, lopsided, or voluptuous. The material held a memory – soft and forgiving.
With my foundation secure, I now move with a sense of beauty and ease. No one can see what lies behind the sweater, only I know. My advice remains simple: confidence starts with a good foundation.
Abbe Rolnick grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. Her first major cultural jolt occurred at age 15 when her family moved to Miami Beach, Florida. To find perspective, she climbed the only non-palm tree at her condo-complex and wrote what she observed. Here, history came alive with her exposure to the Cuban culture. RIVER OF ANGELS, the first novel in her series Generation of Secrets, stems from her experiences during her stay in Puerto Rico.
Other books by Abbe Rolnick: Color of Lies (Book 2 in the Generation of Secrets Series, Founding Stones (Book 3 in the Generation of Secrets Series), Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply, Tattle Tales: Essays and Stories Along the Way.
Her most recent publication is Bubbie’s Magical Hair, a children’s illustrated book.
A former bookstore owner, CEO of a manufacturing firm, and restaurant, she presently resides with her husband on twenty acres in Skagit Valley, Washington.
You can find more at her website: www.abberolnick.com.
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