I am sure it was this way before I left, but maybe I didn’t notice it as much. Maybe I’ve been gone too long and now see everything against the reflection of what I’ve left and learned, and will return to. New Yorkers have stopped eating. I have passed so many women that have yanked words out of my mouth, as if their bones ached to be heard and latched onto my tongue, forcing forward my thoughts that echoed their own fear of dissipation.
“My God! You need to eat,” is what I scream.
When was it that Ally McBeal was on? That was the start, was it not? Even with the backlash, suddenly women began shrinking, as if we became afraid of our own substance.
When my husband and I moved to Uganda, I was at my lowest weight. Not deliberate, but as a byproduct of being an undergrad, far from 18, and struggling. Still, I was absolutely a product of the culture and led proudly with my hipbones. I had also fed from the troth of sun evasion and had diligently shielded my skin from the horror of it, so that I shined as white as the refrigerator I had no time to visit.
A year later I was 10 pounds heavier and sun kissed all over. Oh, I tried to avoid it, but trying to avoid the sun in East Africa is like trying to avoid swimming when someone throws you in the water. At some point you just have to live.
And here’s where it gets funny. My gorgeous English friend, who’s married to a French hottie, tells me after this weight gain and tanning that her husband is so relieved I am not sick anymore. He was always concerned for her “pale, skinny friend.”
My husband dealt with this as well. He was on the receiving end of many a pitied look from Ugandans that his wife was so, well, hollow.
So words are pulled out of me, heard or not heard, as I watch a city of bones, happily ensconced in a little bit of the weight of a bigger life.