I’m sitting in the airplane in Lubbock trying to get out to NYC – it’s looking pretty sketchy, but in my down time, I thought you might enjoy this essay I wrote several years ago after I got to return to New Mexico from North Carolina. Enjoy!
FREE AND EATING
I had such high hopes for getting thin after this divorce. The last one got me down to that ultra-thin, gaunt look – the look where you get the ultimate compliment (Yeah, I know strong and healthy is the new cool look, but really, let’s be honest. . .), that look where people say the impossible, which is “Oh, honey, look at you! You’re really tooooo thin.” They say it with pseudo-concern in their voices, but they’re really thinking to themselves, “You lucky bitch. You don’t have to cook for a man and you have your evenings full of crying and agonizing and sitting around with a book or going for long sad walks, and I’ll bet sometimes you don’t even think of food. Look how thin you are. . .”
My last divorce got me down to a number of the scale that I hadn’t seen since 1978 when I was an obsessive senior in high school before the prom. Twelve years and two children, and there I was back in a size 6, not even wanting to eat.
So I’ve had high hopes for this time around. I spent the last year living in the land of my impossible marriage, also known as the land of country ham and biscuits and grits with extra butter and black-eyed peas with hogback and dump cake and persimmon pudding. After a year in the Carolinas, I really, really need to drop at least 10 or 12 pounds. My major physical activity in my most-recently-ended marriage was wandering the aisles at the Wal-Mart, admiring myself in the mirror, thinking that in North Carolina I could pass for a supermodel. Everyone I saw there was either right on the precipice of obese or had already gone over the edge, and here I was, a mere 10 pounds over my not-perfect-but-okay weight. I could sometime slip into a dress in the single digits while everyone else in my new extended family was a 16. They all treated me like a nutrition icon, not knowing that in my home state of cyclists and mountaineering advocates, I was actually on the slightly overweight side.
And now here I am newly divorced, and all I can do since I got home to New Mexico is eat. I am not sitting at home at night, crying my eyes out, missing my crazy man, wanting my old like back. I can’t get sad enough to lose my appetite. I don’t have any morose moments. Instead I’m having carne adovada from Sadies, roast beef green chile cheese burritos from Dos Hermanos, often with calabacitas and extra cheese stirred in just for good measure, blue corn chicken green chile enchiladas from Los Cuates, western style hash browns smothered in cheese and green chile from the Frontier, Machaca con green chile from Gardunos, chiles rellenos from El Patio. I’m on a feeding frenzy. I drive to Santa Fe just to go to the Burger Barn. The curly fries call my name on evenings when I should be sad.
Every day I talk tough about getting back on Atkins, dropping eleven pounds in the first couple of weeks like I did back in 1998; every morning I start with eggs with cheese and green chile and plan to just have protein for lunch and protein again for dinner, leaving out the sugar and eating no carbs. I know how to do this. I know all the rules, all the appropriate meals to get me back into the slim mode. I know that I will have a rare steak with sauteed mushrooms for dinner. Pizza with no crust for lunch tomorrow. I know that chips are not on the Atkins diet. I know that I am to leave tortillas and sopaipillas alone. At all costs.
But then someone calls and says the office is meeting at El Portal for a quick lunch, do I want to join them, and I am so happy to be in the land of great chips and salsa and El Portal red chile sauce smothered tamales and my old friends that I throw caution to the wind and head out to Old Town. After work my pal Bruce drops by and we’re drinking that Michelob Ultra near- beer, talking about the evil of carbohydrates when he says, “you know, Gardunos is just around the corner, and there’s usually not a wait on a Monday night,” and then we’re in the car and then dinner is over and we eating sopaipillas with honey dripping all over our plates.
So, this second divorce is not making me thin. In fact, in my ultimate happiness at being away from my crazy Deliverance-ish North Carolina husband, I am eating my way through the Alibi’s Best of Burque guide with a vengeance. My old haunts are not enough – now I’m branching out and going to new places in the heights, driving up to Corrales for dinner at the Black Crow, heading into the East Mountains for a buffalo burger.
It’s like I’ve been a prisoner of war and suddenly I’m in the land of the free and the brave. The free-to-eat-as-much-Mexican-food-as-you-like without having to ever look at another hot dog smothered in cole slaw. Free to never again have to figure out how to doctor the grits enough to be able to stand them. That’s how free I am these days. Free to get myself as fat as the people in the Wal-Mart in Asheboro, North Carolina. I’d say that’s pretty damn free.