I donâ€™t remember the year or the date, and Iâ€™m not entirely certain of the month, but I remember this: I was about 200 pounds when I met E. That was the first time I had ever weighed that littleâ€”it was the first time I was anywhere near what all those charts call a normal weight. Me and Oprah, we were the same weight! I was delighted by the idea.
And I was starting to accept the idea of being a normal weight, and a normal girl, and person who fit in the world, quite literally: in chairs and bus seats and roller coaster rides and clown cars, through turnstiles and down narrow aisles on the plane, on the way to Chicago, where Iâ€™d meet him.
It was still an uncomfortable feeling. A strangeness. Not just that I wasnâ€™t over-the-moon thrilled, which clearly I ought to have been, ungrateful girl, but because it felt like the world had transformed just for me into something beautiful and reachable. I didnâ€™t know what to do with that ideaâ€”I was the one who was supposed to have changed. To have emerged from my cocoon of fat with a set of instructions and directions, and then go charging off into the sunset, off to do whatever normal people who werenâ€™t afraid of the world were supposed to do next.
When E and I met and he smiled at me, I thought, â€œOh. Oh, this is what Iâ€™ve been missing all these years.â€
It was a sense of power, a sense of agency, a sense of understanding that I could affect someone physically, emotionally. That I could move someone, and be moved so thoroughly in return. That someone would look at me and want to touch meâ€”that was astonishing. My god, was it a miracle. Everyone I had dated beforeâ€”never had I been really deep-down convinced that they wanted me. I had never been completely sure that it could be true until he kissed me. And it was something that changed my life.
It wasnâ€™t the only turning point, the single emotional touchstone, the catalyst that changed everything for all time amen. Those had been happening for awhile, a series of tiny spark-bright epiphanies about myself and my place in the worldâ€”physically, emotionally. But itâ€™s the one I remember most clearly, the one that burns the brightest. Because it was the first time I accepted that other people would look at me, and they would see me, and that didnâ€™t have to be a terrible, raw-rubbed feeling. It didnâ€™t have to be a moment of panic and hoping theyâ€™d like me despite my size or my shape. I didnâ€™t have to hide because it had just never stopped hurting when I saw someone clearly, unmistakably dismiss me after a glance. Not just romantically, not only sexually. But as a person, wiped away.
We dated. We fell in love. I moved to Utah, and fell in love with Utah too. And years passed and we were happy, I think. I became more myself, when I was with him. But somehow, I fell back asleep. We both fell asleep. We forgot to be in the world, and we forgot how to be together. We loved each other butâ€”oh, clichÃ©s, you are so usefulâ€”sometimes it turns out thatâ€™s really not enough.
So one Saturday morning we woke up and instead of going and getting pancakes, we had a long, quiet conversation, and we agreed. And it was the hardest decision we had ever made. He kissed me goodbye, and we were done.
Now, now Iâ€™m back to figuring out how I fit in the world and where I want to go and be. He helped change the whole of my life. He brought me so much closer to being the person I think I want to be. I hope I did the same for him, because that would be rude, otherwise. Because thatâ€™s what I want for him.
Iâ€™m just as scared as I was five years ago, but hereâ€™s the thing: Iâ€™m a whole hell of a lot stronger. Slightly smarter. Just as socially awkward and dopey, but with better shoes. I thinkâ€”I canâ€™t swear to this, but I think Iâ€™ll be okay.