Chicago is, according to some people’s statistics, the number three city in the United States, for
reasons ranging from efficient public transportation to very nice hot dogs to
rock star karaoke–which is karaoke you do with a live band, at which you can
be a rock star. Or, in my case, fail spectacularly and hilariously for all time,
exactly as I predicted!
I didn’t believe it, however, because
three place in my heart (for reasons that also include hot dogs,
coincidentally), but it turns out that the wonderfulness of Chicago is a true fact.
I was worried going in–not due to my psychological problems,
of which I have myriad and many, as
I have noted. I was worried about the practical things, too. This was a big
social weekend, full of a lot of social drinking and social eating. It was also
full of people who had no idea about my eating issues, my stomach issues, and I
went in feeling conspicuous and strange, out of place and still, possibly, very
There is a rule, however, that says that you are the only
one who ever notices your own weirdnesses, and oh my God, would you stop
thinking you are so special? I spent the beginning of the weekend convinced of
my own special unique snowflake-ness, expecting someone to stand up and point
and howl at me all Invasion of the Body
Snatchers and then, I would be screwed.
Then it occurred to me, what the fuck was wrong with that?
Here is the scenario: Hey, Anne, you’re eating hardly anything! No, I had
weight loss surgery. Oh, okay! And, scene.
Oh my God, the trauma! How would I survive that? How would I
possibly handle the what, truth? You know how scary the truth is. It has teeth
and claws and it will do absolutely nothing except maybe let you relax and
enjoy your weekend. Eventually, I relaxed and enjoyed my weekend. That
scenario? Never came to pass. Because really, no one gave a damn that I kept passing
the remainder of my plate over to my friend I., who is 10 feet tall and a
bottomless black pit of food-loving consumption, and was more than happy to be
appointed my plate cleaner for the duration of the weekend.
You know how you handle the drinks? You hold one in your
hand the whole night! Just the one. And everyone assumes that the one they see
you with in your hand next time, that’s the twin/triplet/quintuplet of the one
you were just holding 10 minutes ago. Or possibly, they also don’t care.
That is the biggest lesson I am learning here. I spent my
entire life assuming that other people cared about my body–its size, its shape,
its girth, width, depth and density. And honestly, some people did care. Some
people were offended by my size, and it became an issue for them, and I guess
that is where I got this cringing fear, this ridiculous panic that follows me
around all the time, that acts like I have video cameras looking over my
shoulders and that everyone has a notepad, the time, and the inclination to
make lists of what I put into my mouth and make judgments about my body. Except
most people–most normal people, who don’t suck, which are the kinds of people I
want to keep while I discard those other kinds of people–do not give a fuck.
They do not give a fuck what I do or how I do it. The people
who love me don’t give a fuck as long as I am happy, and the people who don’t
love me just don’t give a fuck, and why did it take me so long to not just figure
this out, but actually believe it? Why did I waste so much of my life with so
much trauma and drama and ridiculousness? That makes me angry at myself, as so
much about this process makes me angry, which is getting kind of old.
Over and over again, it’s like I’m excavating my body and
hitting big fat veins of roiling, heaving, ridiculous emotion, which then
explode up into the sky and make a mess of everything. This time I’m mad not just because of all
those wasted years of worry, but because, again and again, I’m finding it
easier when I’m skinnier. Again and again, I don’t want that to be true.
Because it is unfair. Because the world is easier for people who are less fat
than skinny, and that is so deeply, deeply fucked up and unfair. And it is
deeply strange to be enjoying the fruits of that, and so hard to just enjoy it.
I don’t want to spend my whole life mad at who I used to be.
I don’t want there to be a dividing wall between me now, and me of the future,
a place where you can draw a line and say see, this is where it all changed. A
place where you can stand and point and say there is when she was bad, and here
is where she was good. Here is when she became worth something, and there was a
before picture, better forgotten for good. I will punch, in the face, anyone
who suggests that, because it is not true
and I will never let it be true.
Chicago was good because I went there with my crazy neuroses, and they all turned out
to be unfounded. I met amazing people and got over my self-consciousness and
found a kind of freedom in that. I can’t be angry about something that let me
have such a good weekend, with so much dancing, non-stop for hours and hours
jumping up and down and sweating and being out of breath. There was so much
happiness and lovely city-ness and feeling good about myself, and how I felt
and how I looked. I have a fun hangover. I hope this feeling-good thing lasts.