I remember talking to a beautiful young woman many years ago at the gym, one of my many many many times I had started to exercise and try to get fit, after a whole night of not sleeping and lying in bed, hating my body, furious at my own fat, unable to sleep because I felt so fat – which is such a horrible thing to do. Insomnia is awful enough but ‘insecurity insomnia’ – that is a true nightmare. This is sad to me because I look back at pictures of my younger self, and I really have never truly been fat – I just thought that I was – therefore I missed out on appreciating my young body. Now I just have to appreciate my old body (which is not so bad).
So years ago, I was at the gym for the first time after a long absence, tired and worn out from hating myself ferociously all night. While waiting for a step class to begin (oh shit remember Reebok STEP????? Bruises appear all over my shins when I even think about fucking STEP), the woman and I were talking about her marathon training. She had run in the Los Angeles marathon and was thinking about going to Boston and New York to run in those famous city marathons. “You can eat anything you want…” which to me are like weird magic words. Have you ever heard these words uttered – “if you take this class/pill/powder/hire this trainer/dance this number/drink this drink/swim every day/get on a vibration machine while you work out with weights/buy this ab-flex/watch this dvd/learn to purge/run this marathon – you can eat anything you want.” If I ever am fortunate to encounter a Genii, with his muscly arms and curly shoes, I would ask for just one wish consolidated from all three – “I want to eat whatever I want” (presuming that my body would be perfect to begin with and then just never change). My mother tried to append this wish by adding “and never get full” because truly that is her desire – because fullness gets in the way of eating whatever you want! Goddamn body – doesn’t it know we are not eating for hunger!! We are eating for reasons entirely personal and unique and emotional and mental – not physical at all!
The marathoner got to eat whatever she wanted. She ran and ran and ran away from the food and it never caught up with her. Her eyes got misty and far away as she reminisced about bagels and cream cheese, countless pasta dinners, desserts long ago eaten and enjoyed and burned away by running. She ate and ran to utter exhaustion, and after the race was over, she felt incredibly triumphant. Her face glowed as she said, “and afterward, my body was just…..CARVED.” She described the thinness of her own body after running a marathon with a pride and satisfaction that I have never known for myself. What a strange world to live in – to enjoy oneself and love oneself so you are high from it. She actually looked high – thinking about how thin she was, despite eating everything. Is this the runner’s high that is so sought after, yet to me is so elusive? Then she talked about all her toenails fell off and I got grossed out and never tried running.