tagRomanceA New Beginning Pt. 01

A New Beginning Pt. 01

byOnePenIsMightier©

This is my first attempt at a series of stories. I know the setup is a little long, but I'm hoping that pays off in the end to really develop the characters and build into a nice series. Comments and ratings, as well as constructive criticism are always welcome! Thanks to everyone who have enjoyed my past stories!

*****

"Jason Sanders" the voice boomed over the speaker of the arena.

I climbed the stairs and made my way across the stage to accept my diploma. I paused on the other side of the stage as I'd been instructed, posed for a picture, and climbed down the other side to return to my seat.

It was high school graduation and everyone was excited for the next phase of their life; everyone except for me, I wasn't excited, I was ecstatic. I had spent the past 4 years of my life living in misery. I hadn't fit in with any club or group and I certainly wasn't a sports jock; in fact I was quite the opposite, I was obese.

When I was young my mother had thought my pudgy cheeks, arms, and legs were adorable and let me develop horrible eating habits. Once I had grown out of the adorable pudgy phase, my parents had done nothing to help me stem the weight gain and, as a result, I had slowly ballooned to over 350 lbs.; no small feat even at my 6'3" frame.

Growing up obese in a society that values appearance as highly as ours does quickly shows you where you stand in terms of making friends; let alone your nonexistent options as far as dating. My self-esteem had plummeted, my personality had turned introverted and introspective, and I developed a deep self-loathing that I had a hard time getting past. I had one friend in my life, Katrina.

Katrina and I weren't friends because we loved spending time together, we were friends because Katrina had also been marginalized from all social circles. We were the outcasts, the ones that didn't fit anywhere, and so, we fit together. Katrina had a similar personality to mine in that she was quiet, not shy, just quiet from being teased and picked on about her weight. When people don't think you fit in, they have a way of poking fun at you no matter how funny the jokes are that you tell or how passionate you are about a mutual interest, they find a way to twist the knife a little deeper. Because of that, you just naturally become quiet to give them less ammunition to use against you, not because you have nothing to say or offer, but out of fear; it was this kind of quiet that emanated from Katrina. We spent our lunches sitting together quietly, leaning on one another as a crutch to get us through the years, thankful that there was at least one warm bodied individual around that wasn't trying to destroy what little self-esteem we had left.

We did share a mutual interest in board and video games (at least it seemed like we did. She may have feigned interest just to develop a semblance of a connection). We often spent our after school hours together playing games and sitting quietly while we took turns completing quests in various RPGs.

Our senior year everyone was beginning to experiment sexually and it became yet another thing that Katrina and I were left out of. We decided that we would try to work through our awkward phase together and began to engage in a more physical relationship. It was not a romantic relationship by any means, we weren't attracted to one another in the slightest, hell we were barely friends, but we were all each other had. I think we both saw it as a way of learning a few things with someone we didn't really care about before we went off to college. We were awkward and sloppy, as would be expected, but our weight just made things all the more difficult. It wasn't long before we abandoned our sexual relationship entirely, both too embarrassed by our ineptitude to continue.

After the graduation ceremony had ended, I glanced around for Katrina to say goodbye. I knew we wouldn't see one another again, why would we? We had made it through high school, we had no more use for one another, and we were both off to college to try to start over with a new group of people. I caught Katrina's eye from across a large mass of people moving to and fro. She nodded, gave me a knowing smile, and walked away. It would be the last time I saw her and it seemed like a fitting end to what our relationship had been. There was no need for a sentimental goodbye, no obligation to one another, just two colleagues that had tolerated one another.

------

When I arrived at the University of Arizona I had a whole new outlook on life. I was going to lose weight, I was going to study hard, and I was going to make friends that would last a lifetime. My freshman year was a blur: I had tried to join the board game club but they weren't exactly a social bunch and only met twice a month (not exactly the social life I had hoped for). The gaming club had been full of ex jocks playing Halo and first person shooters, which I was definitely not, so I abandoned that idea quickly. I had tried to go to as many school functions as possible, and attempted to be social with strangers, but when you've been isolated from all social gatherings for the past 4 years your social skills tend to be a bit lacking, and even I found myself to be awkward at best.

I started to work out my first day on campus and told myself I was going to go every single day. I went for the first 2 weeks, then it dwindled to 3 times a week, then to once a week, and then not at all. The looks I got when I walked into the sports complex made me feel out of place and self-conscious, like only athletic people were allowed to work out; which, to be fair, I seemed to be the only person there actually trying to lose weight, while the rest were already in great shape and just trying to keep it that way. I lost a little weight at the beginning of the year, but I quickly put that back on after giving up on my workout regimen.

Once my workout regimen had failed and the idea of a friend group materializing seemed more and more like a pipe dream, I threw myself into my studies. I made it my goal to graduate at the top of my class; why not? I didn't have anything else taking up my time. After my first year, I was right on track to accomplish that goal with a 4.0 GPA and an invitation to the honors program. That would be my life for the next three years: isolated and alone, I would study, do extra research, perfect reports and essays, and even sit in on classes I wouldn't be taking until next year to try to get a jump on learning the information.

In the end, it all worked. I never finished a class with anything lower than a 96%. I accomplished my goal of graduating first in my class; not to anyone's surprise given all I did was study. My academic achievements landed me a job at a prestigious financial company in New York City with a fair starting salary and, yet again, the hope of starting fresh.

I made the cross country journey in the smallest of U-Haul trucks alone, at my request and against the protest of my parents. I didn't have a lot in terms of possessions, and any large items (bed, dresser, etc.) that I needed I was going to buy once I figured out just how big 450 sq. ft. was. I'd found a studio apartment on the north side of Manhattan near Washington Heights, about a half hour walk and train ride from my new office, and I was, for once in my life, excited to be heading off on this journey alone.

I arrived in the city a week before I was supposed to start my new position as a financial analyst. I spent that first week running around the city buying all the things I needed for my new place. I was absolutely exhausted at the end of each day from all of the walking that I wasn't used to. This city would be good for me, it would force me to move, possibly even get me to lose weight.

By Friday night I had everything I needed and the place was looking like something I could call home. I obviously didn't have any plans for the weekend and contemplated trying to go out and make some friends somewhere. That idea was quickly squelched when I remembered the depressing feeling I'd had in college every time people had walked away from me, never to speak to me again. I had hope at the moment and that was enough.

My first day rolled around and I entered the subway amongst the masses, pressed together like sardines, all trying not to sweat through our work attire before we'd even made it to the office. Being as large as I am, tight spaces like the subway are not comfortable places for me, but it was a necessary evil and I took it as a rite of passage into becoming a true New Yorker.

I arrived at my building 20 minutes early and took the elevator to the 25th floor where the company's offices were located. I left the elevator with a few other people who bustled out and headed directly to their respective desks while I went to reception. I told a friendly looking, middle aged woman who I was and that it was my first day and needed a little help figuring out where to go.

"Oh! Hi! It's a pleasure to meet you Jason! I'm Carol. If you'll follow me I'll show you where you'll be working." She said as she stood up and started off down the hall. "You'll be sharing a work space with another new hire actually. I can't remember his name offhand but I imagine he'll be here soon as well. Once he's here we'll give you a little bit to get situated and then I'll come back and get you guys and give you the tour of the office and introduce you to everyone before you sit down with your supervisor to go over what you'll be working on. Here we are! If you have any questions or anything I'm right down the hall!"

"Thanks!" I replied, taking stock of the small cubicle space with a computer and desk on both sides and 2 chairs sitting back to back. I felt bad for whoever my cubicle mate was, there wasn't a lot of room to begin with and my fat ass was going to inevitably be encroaching on his limited space. I tossed my bag on one of the desks and unloaded a pad of paper and a few writing utensils before taking a seat. I twiddled my thumbs for a few minutes, just looking around at the dull grey walls and the blank computer screen; how invigorating, they really knew how to get you excited for work. I guess I shouldn't expect an art studio when I'm working at a financial company, but a little color wouldn't kill them would it? I made a mental note to at least buy myself some colored paper to introduce a little cheer into the space.

Soon I heard footsteps coming down the hall and Carol's voice telling someone the same itinerary that she'd told me.

Around the corner came Carol and a guy about my age. He was about my age, but that's where the similarities ended; he was thin and muscular with an athletic build, black hair that was perfectly groomed, and a chiseled jaw line that I'm sure women fawned over. He could have been on a Calvin Klein billboard and not looked out of place.

"Jason, this is Wes. Wes, Jason. You guys will be sharing this space for the time being. Eventually we'll get you your own space but we're not sure where exactly we're going to put you at the moment. Anyway, I'll give you guys a little bit to get settled and I'll be back for the tour!" With that, Carol skipped off down the hall back to her desk.

"Hey man, how's it goin?" Wes prompted.

"Not bad. You?" I responded.

"Can't complain! Second day in the city so I'm still adjusting a bit, but overall it's good!"

"Where are you from?"

"Right now I'm from Minnesota, but I've lived all over cuz of my Dad's job. Never in a big city though so this will be a change of pace for sure. What about you, are you from the city?" he asked

"No, I'm from Arizona. I've been here for a week and I'm still adjusting too. Everything is so packed together here...not excluding our desks."

"Haha yeah it's a little tight but we'll make do. Glad to hear I've got someone who can relate to the culture shock with me at least. You know anyone in town by chance?"

"No, no one." I said drearily.

"Yeah me neither. Oh well, looks like you and I are stuck with each other!"

And just like that, Wes became my best friend.

Over the next few months Wes and I really hit it off. He was a really nice guy and as much as I wanted to hate him for his charm and good looks, I just couldn't. He treated me as an equal and without any judgements about my weight. I never caught him looking at me with disgust like others had done and he never said a word when we would have to stop to take a breather when walking around town; he just rolled with it. As a result of this new friendship, my mood was far better, my self-confidence was looking up, and I started to really enjoy hanging out with people. As long as Wes was around, everyone seemed to treat me better.

It was somewhere around the 300th time of me apologizing for bumping into the back of Wes' chair with a "Fuck, sorry, it's a good thing you're skinny cuz two of me wouldn't fit in here." that Wes finally threw it out there:

"Hey man, I'm not judging, I'm not even saying you need to, but it seems like your weight bothers you a little bit, and if you ever wanted to lose weight or anything all you have to do is say something and I'd be happy to help you out."

"I'd love to lose weight, I really would, but you're so much further ahead of me in every way that I'd just slow you down."

"Oh c'mon, that's bullshit and you know it. Listen, I've got a membership at a gym near my place and they let me bring a friend for a discounted price. I go every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday mornings before work. If you want to come along we can do stuff together. Plus, I'm always asking random people to spot me on stuff because I'm the loser by himself." Wes coaxed.

"You're sure?" I said hesitantly, "I mean, I don't want to slow you down or wreck your routine."

"Nope, not at all man. Tomorrow morning, 6:30, meet at my place and we'll head there. Bring a change of clothes for work and you can shower at my place afterwards."

I'll admit that I was excited to work out with Wes. Finally I had someone to keep me going and get myself in shape. I was excited, until about 6:45 the following morning. Wes didn't mess around when it came to working out. He knew how to put together a regiment and knew what I needed to do to lose weight. Unfortunately, most of what I needed to do was cardio, my nemesis. By the time we were done that first day, I was drenched in sweat from head to toe; even my socks were disgusting.

Immediately after we got done working out I felt exhausted. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to function at work after what I'd just done, but, surprisingly, after a shower, I felt a lot better. By the time we got to work, I felt great. I felt like I'd accomplished something, and was looking forward to the next day. I was looking forward to the following morning until I woke up and felt how sore I was. I could barely move. My calves were tight, my hamstrings were tight, my everything was tight. When I finally made it to Wes' place he opened the door and started laughing immediately.

"Hahaha little sore huh?" He laughed.

"That's an understatement. I can barely move."

"Haha yeah, that'll happen. Don't worry, we'll get ya all stretched out when we get there and you'll be good as new. Might want to stretch at night before bed too just to ward off some of the tightness in the morning."

"Thanks for the heads up. It feels like I'm on a medieval rack and I'm being tortured for moving even a little bit."

"Oh c'mon it's not THAT bad. Today is an easy day anyway for ya." Wes said encouragingly.

Wes lies. It's really his only bad quality. And oddly enough, he only lies about workouts. It wasn't an easy day. It may have been an easy day for Wes, but I was just as soaked as the day before by the time I was done. But yet again, I felt great after a shower and getting cleaned up.

I kept at it, day after day, running, biking, rowing, and elliptical, I did it all. Wes slowly beat my fat ass into shape. I knew how much I weighed when I started and I vowed not to look at the scale until I'd hit 6 months. I didn't want to see one pound at a time fall off, I wanted to see the big reward after a long stretch. When 6 months rolled around, Wes was there, standing next to the scale as I stepped on and the numbers began jumping around.

"What were you at to start again?" Wes asked.

"342."

The numbers finally stopped and locked in. I stared in disbelief.

"298! DAMN MAN! 44 lbs in 6 months! That's what I'm talkin' about!" Wes cheered.

I could have cried. I hadn't seen the 200's since I was 15 years old. "I can't believe I'm under 300. Thank you...just...thank you. I couldn't have even come close to this without your help." I said staring at the scale, tears building in my eyes.

In a rare serious moment between us, Wes wrapped his arm around my shoulder, pointing down at the scale, "That has nothing to do with me. That's all you and your hard work. Anybody can write down a workout on a piece of paper, YOU still have to do it, and you have. Hell of a job man, if you aren't proud of that, I don't know what you could possibly be proud of."

"Thanks...so, do you think I could lose 100 lbs by a year?" I asked hopefully.

"100 lbs? That'd be tough...real tough. But I like the attitude! You wanna go for it?"

"Yeah...yeah I do."

"Then we're going for it!" Wes laughed a cackling evil laugh, "Oh I'm ganna destroooy you. Time to bust out those full body workouts!"

"That sounds awful...but I'm game." I said smiling.

Over the next 6 months Wes really did destroy me. I started incorporating some weights and full body sets into my regimen and could almost immediately feel the difference. I felt stronger, I had more energy, and I never had to stop to take a breather when walking around town anymore. My self-confidence was climbing higher and higher as my clothes became baggier and baggier. I was still overweight, don't get me wrong, but I was progressing, and that's what mattered most.

In actuality, the thing that probably mattered the most to me was the support of Wes, my coworkers, and also the complete change in how strangers looked at me. Even something as simple as ordering at a deli became a more pleasant experience that I didn't feel like I was being judged for. When your entire life is constantly being judged by those you interact with, you don't realize how miserable the simplest of things becomes until you go back to the other side. It was depressing how long it'd taken me to get to this point, but I knew that I should just be thankful that I got there at all.

In no time the year mark came. I hadn't even realized it was coming up until the calendar reminder in my phone alerted me to it. I was nervous, would I make my goal of 100 lbs? I looked better than I ever had since puberty, but I was anxious to see where I actually was. My ultimate goal I'd set at 215 lbs and to be able to finish a 5k race in some sort of respectable time.

Once again, Wes stood by me as I climbed onto the scale and the numbers started to jump around. We stared, anxiously waiting for the numbers to come into focus.

249 pounds.

"Shit!" I exclaimed, realizing I'd fallen 7 pounds short of 100.

"Shit?! Are you kidding me? Dude you just lost 93 pounds in a calendar year! That's fucking ridiculous!" Wes said, holding up his fist.

I bumped his fist with mine before replying, "I know, but 100 would have been a pretty sweet number to get to."

"Well if we'd JUST done cardio, yeah, you would have made it, but we did weights and stuff too so as you lost weight you also put on muscle, so really you lost more than 100 pounds of fat and gained who knows how much muscle."

"So...are you telling me that you cost me my 100 pound goal because you wanted me to be able to do a few pushups?!" I said with fake outrage.

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byOnePenIsMightier© 9 comments/ 20271 views/ 50 favorites

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