BY LAURA JANE/ ILLUSTRATION BY JEN
Hi. I was born on Dundas Street in the city of Toronto when I was zero years old and lived in a town forty-five minutes outside of the city for the first eighteen years of my life. I came back to Toronto six years ago and have lived here all the way up until today. I am moving to London, England in about five hours. Here is the story of the past six years of my life.
I moved back home the summer I turned twenty-three. A couple months earlier my boyfriend and I had broken up in Montreal. We went to go see a movie about nothing called Last Night At Marienbad. I didn’t like it because it was boring and I knew I was supposed to pretend I was too smart to think it was boring which made me want to make an even bigger deal out of how boring I thought it was. My boyfriend loved it because he loved everything I thought was boring and I hated everything that he loved. If we were two overlapping circles the ellipse between us would only have been big enough to hold: Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles, a couple Faust albums, Thai food, Ulysses and- kind of- each other. A few years later I asked him if we could collaborate on a blog post about the night of our break-up and call it Last Night Of Our Relationship At Marienbad and he said no because it hit too close to home. But now a thousand years have passed and he’s thirty and I may as well be. He’s marrying a girl in New York City and I’m moving to England in a week and I can say whatever the hell I want. I thought I already could but I didn’t realize how much I actually could. There’s always another level of truth sitting around and waiting for you to move to another country.
I was sick that summer. Not as sick as I had been, and not as sick as I would be, but when I look back on the diaries I kept of everything I ate then I’m horrified. A lot of garlic salt, fruit salad, and steamed broccoli.
I was staying at my parents’ house in a suburb forty minutes west of the city. They were in the process of splitting up and I told people that I was only staying in Oakville to help them sell the house but I’m pretty sure that the entire five months I lived there I didn’t life one single finger to help them once. I just sat around and freaked out about what I was going to do with my life and in the evenings made them drive me to Whole Foods. I’d take the commuter train into Toronto on weekday mornings and walk up to Kensington Market, to Urban Herbivore, where I’d buy a sweet potato date muffin and walk it over to the Tibet Café where I’d order a strawberry-pineapple smoothie and eat them together while doing a crossword. When I was sick I could only eat if I was doing a crossword at the same time.
In August I got a job downtown, at a store called Lavish & Squalor, which does not make any sense. It should be either Lavishness & Squalor or Lavish & Squalid. I haven’t been in there since the day I quit five and a half years ago. They sold Cheap Monday jeans and all my co-workers made a big deal out of how skinny I was. Most of the women who worked there were older than me and they all made a point of telling me “I used to be a twig like you”— a twig, like, “You are literally nothing more than a small branch. A piece of a tree that fell off it.” I hoped it meant that they used to have eating disorders but then grew up and got over them. But I knew in my heart that they’d never been as skinny as I was. They only meant to say that they were once skinnier than they were now, and lying to the anorexic girl about their past levels of skinniness aligned them with me and my body and somehow made them feel skinnier to themselves in the present. No one who was ever as skinny as I was then would ever say “I used to be a twig like you” to a girl as skinny as I was then.
I moved in with two of my co-workers. Let’s not get too deep into this. One of them stole a thousand dollars cash out of my file cabinet and I didn’t pretend it didn’t happen so he turned on me. He put his hand on my leg and told me to calm down and that was it- the only appropriate response to “Calm down” is “I will not calm down!” or, in extreme cases, “I will never calm down.” He and his friends left signs around the house calling me an anorexic bitch or occasionally a [sic] “bulemic” bitch. The thief wiped his ass with my towel. I dried my hair with it and smelled his shit and looked at it and gagged and then washed my hair again and dried it with a different towel. What else can you do?
I drank a lot. I ate very little. My eating disorder was my eating disorder, as tiny and specific as an advent calendar chocolate, belonging to that day and the way that that day was my day. And it was as big as the world. It was bigger than my whole world. It was an evil little aura surrounding every moment of every day, a tiny black halo hanging over every letter of every word like an accent grave or aigou or an umlaut. Every day was defined by a hunger that felt like a hundred thousand stomach crunches layered on top of one another and the only way to get through it was by drinking a bottle of wine per night to distract myself. My face went puffy from all the drinking. I’d fondle my ribcage and found it more amazingly there than ever but I’d press my finger into my fat face two seconds later and it was even fatter than it was when I was fat although I never was. I quit drinking for a couple weeks and then went back to drinking again. A bottle of Diet Coke exploded in my purse and broke my phone. I broke the lease on my apartment. I bought a new phone.