10:17 PM, EST
The nice thing about some memories is that oftentimes you can make yourself forget them or maybe, if you're lucky, your brain will misplace them. The problem with some memories is the same as above, but even more so that memories are likely to have physical attachments that make them (the memories) linger like the smell of death after the plague swept through Europe. When your mother starts stirring the stew of your memory, everything can get exponentially worse.
About every few months, my mom will try and make me do something. It's not illegal or illicit, but I don't want to do it because I want to deal with those years and why I now still sometimes consider myself a failure. No pictures, no death in the common sense, just fabric.
Popularity kills. I was another fat-fashionless-smart-shy-bookworm-socially inept girl. I was OC. My mom tried to make me thin to rectify her fat childhood. I resisted and did a great job.
Half way through 8th grade I decided to start exercising on my own. I began jogging, then running, then counting the calories, then weighing myself everyday immediately after waking up and doing x number of crunches. Here I was successful as well. The higher I climbed, the higher the peak seemed to be and there was nothing to stop me.
But there was still the rejection. Worse was my stubborn blindness. It must have been a riot, but I trudged on, surrounded by a strong will and depression.
Around the beginning of 10th grade, the weight started sloughing off. Everyone was so happy. My parents heaped adulation upon me. People didn't recognize me. My peers cared less for the most part.
But the best part was the shopping. I was never a fan of shopping. I never saw the allure of stores and I detested having to go to the petite section of JC Penny's because I was too damn fat for anything else. That and the junior's section of the same store at Cumberland Mall. All the outfits were ugly and just not made for someone who was about five feet tall and 130 lbs. Trying on outfits that never fit, having to buy new clothes every month because I was constantly gaining weight. The rejection in my mom's face, the utter disapproval and disappointment drove me to eat more for over a decade because I never thought I could win.
Now that was over.
Now I could shop at The Limited and Express and American Eagle and Rich's and all those other stores that catered to average sized people. Never in my life was I so happy to be average in any way. I wore regular jeans and regular skirts. Size medium! Wow! I would check the tags over and over to remind myself. And I kept on running, every day, farther and farther.
All the nice clothes. BCBG. Anne Klein. Kasper. And I looked so nice and was so flattered. I felt great. Even my swim team coach was impressed and all the girls had a crush on him, though I was the last to admit it. I woke up at 5:45 am to run or work out at the gym before 8 hours of school. I began to compete with my calorie diary to see how few calories I could consume rather than how healthfully I could use my 1500.
My 16th birthday started with me crying hysterically because the scale claimed that I gained three pounds. I was still a size 6, but I had gained three pounds. I could occasionally fit into a size 4, but I was still a failure. That was a really lousy birthday and it was the beginning of a string of them.
The best thing my peers might have ever done was not accept me because it said that they had some fundamental problems with me that had little to do with my waist size. I’ll give them that much.
So tonight was the night I forced myself to do what I avoided for years: to go unearth the bags of size sixes that have been nicely folded in bags and hung in plastic sheaths on hangers and laid to rest in the crawl space in the basement. I looked at those pants and suits and skirts and could recall where I was and what I was doing. There were genuinely happy moments in those fabrics. But that was then, this is now. I picked up the caramel velvet skirt and the khakis and the courds and the cute shorts and the nice Shabbat skirts. Light but heavy.
I went through them all until I found a dress I wore to my school’s excuse for a prom in 10th grade before I had gotten down to my “optimal” weight. Hey, maybe this could fit, I thought as I hastily grabbed everything and made my way out, treating my pride and joys like the useless rags they now were. Upstairs, I hung clothes in the coat closet and put the bags in the car to take to our favorite cause.
“Mom, this has some stains”, I said, holding up the dress.
“Does it fit? I can take it to the cleaners and see what they can do.”
“OK. I’ll go try it on.”
Retreating to my room, I pulled the dress over me. It looked strange over my work pants, so I pulled them down, but left them hanging around my ankles over my sneakers, the lazy way. I hopped into the computer room for my father’s judgement.
“Hey dad, does this look nice on me?”
“Yeah. Is that new?”
“No. It’s from high school.”
“Yes, you look good in it.”
I turned around and hopped back into my room like the Mad Hatter, jittery from running and rehashing. Undressed and redressed, I put it in the bag for the cleaners. Perhaps those stains will finally come out of that dress and out of my mind.