If you want to know about why I am like this, here is a good place to start. I have never killed a man, nor have I committed racketeering, laundering or any sort of clean-handed complicated financial scheme. I went to a summer camp in southern New Hampshire called Camp Takodah. It was a nice, wholesome rusticky group of cabins surrounded by pine trees and like everything else in New England it was a hundred years old. The Four Core Values of this camp were Honesty! Caring! Respect! Responsibility!
With regards to how I treated my body, all Four of the Four Core Values did not apply, but for the sake of brevity, concentrating on honesty is a good a start as any.
The earliest memory I have of binge eating was me sitting in front of my freezer eating all twelve of the Trader Joe’s 12 Mini Mint Ice Cream Mouthfuls my mother had picked up that afternoon. To this day, still one of the best desserts I’ve ever consumed. My mother found me on the floor and told me I was getting fat. In retrospect, I wasn’t fat – maybe ten or fifteen pounds of baby fat which hung around for five years too long, but not fat. I didn’t know what fat meant. Regardless, I launched headfirst, tumbling, into what became the greatest, most complex and masterful scheme of my career over the next seven years of my life: convincing the world that yes, I had eaten that day.
“Leeza, have you had dinner?”
“No but we had cake after swim practice, it was Nicole Yao’s birthday and I had a really big piece and now I’m full, can I go to bed?
– Dialogue between my mother and I, dated October 23rd, 2014
Nicole Yao’s birthday was July 20th. I know because I looked it up on Facebook just now, for historical accuracy. I never got around to eating her real cake (if she even brought cake to practice, in retrospect she didn’t seem like a cake-bringing girl) because my rotator cuff tendinitis progressed to a rotator cuff tear and my swimming career progressed to 6-day-per-week physical therapy sessions. My Sundays were off days.
“What do you want on your burrito?”
“Oh no, I already ate during my free while I was doing math work, I’ll just take a Diet Coke and sit with you guys it’s cool no worries”
– Dialogue between me and J,B,M, and K, dated February 17, 2016
Diet Coke was synonymous with What the fuck, have my legs always been the size of fucking Antarctica? to me. After a whole three months of dodging my friends’ burrito offers, I walked from my house to Bueno Y Sano (a twenty-one minute walk along the 111 South, according to www . maps.google . com) and ordered three grande chicken burritos with extra guac, and a Diet Coke. I sat on my bathroom floor and ate them in the span of twenty minutes over the toilet, because I was worried I’d vomit.
“Wanna do dinner and work in Commons tomorrow evening at five?”
“Crew actually gets back super late, and I have a lot of work to do – I’ll be in silent the entire night if you wanna work but might have to pass on dinner, maybe this weekend?”
– Dialogue between me and A,S, and N, dated March 20, 2017
Boarding school makes your life exponentially easier if you want to eat less and study more. Crew at boarding school makes it even easier. In between breaking my shoulders and breaking the other parts of my body, I dabbled in lightweight rowing. 130 was my favorite number. I smashed a glass scale in my bathroom when I weighed in before a regatta and found I was 132. Ex post fucking up my knees and shins and hips and back: I became a coxswain. Weight limits were still there – they were just lower.
I skipped dinner and studied. My grades went up and my weight went down. I ordered Bertucci’s, Dominos, and Thai Sweet Basil one night and then walked downtown before class to pick up Diet Coke for the next week. I learned that it’s hard to get rid of old habits. It’s harder to get rid of ten extra pounds. I would have rather gotten caught in a Ponzi scheme than have gotten caught between myself.