Friday, August 20, 2010

The Things I Did For Food

Joined Karen for Tex-Mex tonight. I got my usual dish -- veggie fajitas with broccoli, cauliflower, squash and peppers, but what's interesting is that I was craving it all day. Me craving vegetables; did you ever imagine?

During dinner, I showed Karen some of my old student IDs and driver's licencses that I still keep in my wallet and she could hardly believe how skinny I used to be. In her opinion, I was too skinny, even in my college ID, where I weighed about 115 pounds. She said that she liked the one of me from my senior year of college the best -- when I weighed about 140.

It's pretty telling that I can recall my life by my various weights rather than by just my memories. I'd like to change that. I'd like to be able to look at old photos of myself and think, "That's from when I was 40, the year that Jon and I went to Thailand," rather than, "That's from when I was 38 and weighed 220." This reinforces how much prominence my weight and food have had in my life and I'd like well, my LIFE, to be the central focus.

That said, I confided in Karen about some of the inane things I did for food when I was a kid, like steal packages of cookies from the back of the pantry or raid my friends' kitchens. The thing I'm probably the most ashamed of, though, is lying to my grandmother.

My mother's mother was a tiny woman, about 4'5" and sweet as anything. She was so naive and protective and literally used to make me wear my gloves and hat in 70 degree weather. She never had an unking word to say about anyone except when she was watching her soap, GUIDING LIGHT. Then she'd call the show's villainess a "snot nose," which trust me, was pretty racy stuff for my grandmother!

Anyway, when I was in the fifth grade, I went through a dark period where Istole a lot. I swiped earrings from friends, money from my parents and even shoplifted a couple of things from the mall ... and I stole from my grandma.

Toward the end of the year, my friend Lani and another girl in our neighborhood invited me to take a walk with them to this nearby deli. It was only a mile away from my home, but it was on a main road and I knew that my parents wouldn't want me walking all the way there without an adult. Still, I was 11, my parents weren't yet home from work, and dammit, I wanted to go! Unfortunately, I knew that if I asked my grandmother, she'd freak out. I mean, she became nervous when I went on my swing set.

Therefore, Lani helped me come up with a lie and I told my grandma that I was going to the mall with Lani's mom for school supplies. This was ridiculous because school was almost over, but my grandmother bought the story and gave me the OK. She also gave me $10 to buy my things.

With our money in hand, the three of us then made the trek to the deli. There, we gorged on pizza, cake and all sorts of other crap that they sold there. We were practically high from ingesting so much salt and sugar. We knew that our parents wouldn't approve of us sneaking over there, so we made a pact that we'd never tell anyone about our journey. I actually kept my promise for a very long time.

My grandma died when I was 13 and by that time, I wasn't interested in stuffing my face with junk. A couple of years later, I went through my scary skinny period and well, you know most of the rest. But I've always felt badly about tricking such a wonderful, trusting woman ... and for what? Shitty pizza and packaged cookies. Yeah, I was only a kid, but even then, I put food before my family. I suppose I can argue that part of me wanting to get away had to do with me being a pre-teen and wanting to have an adventure, but no, I can assure you that I was just going for the food. I think that for the entire walk over there, I was babbling about everything that I was going to eat.

I eventually 'fessed up about the lie when I was about 15 (I wasn't kidding about keeping the secret for a long time) and Lani sort of laughed at me, saying that she had told her parents years before and they hadn't cared. It still haunts me, though. No, it wasn't THAT bad a thing to do -- I mean, you should hear some of my husband and father's stories about the things they did as kids -- but I still feel dirty. The way I acted was like I was on drugs or something; I lied to a loved one, took her money and then stuffed myself numb with treats. Nice.

I'm a mostly honest person these days, save for a white lie now and then, but I wish my grandmother were alive so I could tell her the truth -- and give her back her $10. Karen says that she's sure that my grandmother forgives me, wherever she is, and she's probably right. My grandma wasn't the type of person to hold a grudge.

I, too, forgive myself for being young and foolish, but I also don't want to forget about it because it's important that I remind myself how destructive binge eating can be. I haven't taken money from anyone else for food, but I have done other shameful things like eat in secret or even take uneaten food out of the trash when no one was looking.

Food isn't something to be ashamed of, though. It's not something to hide or hide from. It's just well, food. But the memories you create from spending time with friends or family are a lot more fleeting. I don't ever want to put food before them again.

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