I don't own a scale. I do own a bright turquoise bath mat that I refuse to put in the bathroom because it's too pretty. I recently ordered it from Crate and Barrel with a gift card someone got us a year ago. I am bad at remembering where I put stuff.
My parents own a scale and, with its dark powers of seduction, it drew me to it and suggested in a sly, beguiling whisper that I should put my feet on its smooth surface. So I did. And then I came back the next day for more. And again, the day after that. And over the course of that time, which happened to be the long weekend of Thanksgiving, I watched the numbers gently rise.
I pretended that I didn't remember my heaviest weight. I don't want to be the kind of person who thinks about this kind of thing. I want to have records in my head of important stuff. The periodic table, maybe. A detailed map of lower Manhattan. All of the best words of the English language and a bunch of useful phrases in Spanish. Instead, it seems like the stuff that got priority is a catalogue of American dog breeds (memorized when I was 10), a little over half the state capitals, a litany of Most Embarrassing Moments, including the time I said "'wroten' instead of 'written'" into a microphone in front of a hundred people, and blatantly unhelpful information about my body, like my heaviest weight.
"Heaviest weight!" bellowed an evilly gleeful voice in my head, the moment I stepped onto the scale on the third day. "HEAVIEST! BAM. You're at it again. How's it feel, being the HEAVIEST? Whatcha think about that?"
"Hmm," I said aloud, tilting my head thoughtfully. "That number looks familiar... Where have I seen it before? It can't be my heaviest weight, can it? I can barely even remember..." I stepped daintily off the scale. "Nope. It's completely slipped my mind!"
OK, me. I lied. To myself. And not very convincingly. I vividly remember the day I discovered my heaviest weight. It's a gross story about being a bad person who thinks petty, stupid things and this is how it goes: I was at my friend's house. She was beautiful. We had this unspoken agreement. She was beautiful, I was skinny. The skinniness felt important, because when you are skinny, people often get it mixed up with beauty, and they compliment you a lot on it. So I got all these compliments for being skinny and she got all these compliments for being gorgeous and then one day I stopped getting so many compliments but for a while I didn't notice and then we both decided it would be fun to weigh ourselves. Which was probably unrelated, but maybe it was fate. We did. And suddenly, I was heavier than her. My first thought was, "Now she has everything."
Yeah. As though it was some sort of ancient cosmic battle. Like, although we were such good friends, our appearances had been secretly at war for years. Her appearance had plundered my appearance's land and taken all its gold and sheep, and now my appearance had nothing, while hers was going to rule the kingdom.
My next thought was, "What do I do?" Like I had to either correct the cosmic imbalance or be doomed to a meaningless life of not being complimented for anything (and having no sheep).
I think I was 20 at the time. Old enough to know better.
(That was a joke. That's definitely not old enough to know better. I'm not totally convinced I know better now. But I'm keeping an open mind. I'm working with the evidence and we'll see what we get.)
When I admitted to myself the other day, in my parents' bathroom, that it was all true -- I remembered everything about my heaviest weight even though I still can't always find my way around the Lower East Side or name enough elements to sound smart -- I had to also admit that my inclination was to vow immediately that after this weekend, I would barely eat.
This is bald, naked honesty right now. I think I'm not supposed to ever acknowledge how many times I decide to not eat anymore. How many times I promise myself that after today, I will live on carrot sticks and lettuce and carbonated water. It happens a lot. Like... let's see... basically every time I wear something sleeveless or watch myself in a mirror while jogging or see a photo of myself or eat more cookies than I thought I would when I started eating them or eat because I'm bored or eat until I'm so full it hurts or have to dress up or meet a young mom who just had a baby but who is obviously in better shape than me. And some other times, too.
I have never once followed through. Not even for a whole day.
But that is where my mind goes.
And honesty is important here, I think.
Standing in my parents' bathroom two days after Thanksgiving, I made a quick promise to myself that I would only eat carrot sticks and watery gruel for the next several years, until things were under control, and then I went downstairs and ate a cider donut and asked the kitchen at large, "Has anyone seen the rest of the stuffing?"
Which is why this is probably a story about how I finally exceeded my previous heaviest weight and crossed over into new, exciting territory. I probably have a new number now. But I don't know, because I don't have a scale, and I'm home again. And what I don't know can't become a stupid memory about something that doesn't actually matter that I use to torment myself in a pointless way.
Now please excuse me while I go stand on my soft new turquoise bath mat. So fluffy! So turquoise! And such a better place to put my feet.
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