The neighbor is making pizza. The terrible and fantastic frost-bitten-from-the-back-of-the-freezer kind. Pizza forgotten in the grocery store until some lonely person with a movie to watch and no energy rescues it. The aroma is filling the stairwell and I wonder if I’ll ever eat pizza again. If I’ll ever scorch the top of my mouth on substandard processed cheese, if I’ll ever fall asleep from a carb coma waking just long enough to say to the guy getting fatter asleep on the couch next to me “we should go get ice cream.” So we do and it’s awesome and we’re too full to make love but we’ve looked at each other naked so many times we don’t care if tonight is lost to the gods of bad food and bloated bellies.
When did food become a terrorist, someone lurking down the dark ally, I fear it might grab me? I am terrified of the extra scoop of hummus I put on my mushrooms… like somehow the mashed up chickpeas will keep me fat and unhappy.
I’ve taken to washing my dishes after everything I eat, if the plate is clean it’s almost like it never happened. I write down each thing that goes in my mouth like a study of the eating habits of an exotic animal. Incidentally, last year I ate a lot of canned tuna. I ate a lot of rice.
I used to enjoy cooking, the pleasure of taking many separate things and together making a beautiful symphony. I used to drink red wine… during the years I enjoyed my food–now I don’t touch it: too many calories…and it makes me crave chocolate, delicious food and conversation. Lonely skinny people drink vodka in their apartment that has bare cupboards and very clean stoves; only the empty jar of peanut butter they binged on the night before because they just couldn’t take the sour emptiness of their own dissatisfaction and growling stomach.
I wonder if I have ever felt “normal” about food. I can’t remember ever going to bed hungry as a child, yet now as an adult it’s some kind of prize, like the sickness from hunger is saying, “good job, people will like you better if you don’t eat.”
I used to be very thin; I romanticize this time-believing that I ate without guilt, but with pleasure, but that’s a lie. I was sick all the time.
I say to myself, “if I could just feel the joy of food again I wouldn’t obsess over it,” like what I put in my mouth is some kind of dirty porn that I can’t tell people I get off on.
So, I let myself feel sad over the pizza; cry because I’ve attached so much more to the smell of it than just the satiation of hunger.
Yet, very slowly I begin to see what I put in my body AS me; the saying we are what we eat becoming a truth. Eventually, the idea of healthy food has become so much more than it had been. What process has it been through? How does it make me feel? All the things I’d seen as not too bad have vanished and even many of the things I once saw as healthy have fell away. A close friend once used the term “garbage belly” to describe the individuals that eat anything and everything and I’ve begun to notice with disgust that most people are that, myself included. Now, I think of this when the warm smell of my neighbors cooking fills up my apartment tempting my mouth to water. I can actually say now that I don’t like the way that food is going to make me feel.