I turned the corner on my way to Au Bon Pain where my chicken Caesar wrap and broccoli cheddar soup would be waiting for me. My stomach grumbled at the thought of each delectable bite being rolled around in my mouth, savored as if it were the last morsel I would ever allow myself to consume. When I rounded the bend, my eyes met hers and locked. I hadn’t seen longing like that since I saw it in myself…years ago.

Just now I finished my soup…it was lukewarm, but still flavorful. Not nearly meeting my expectations, and I conquered three quarters of the wrap before the lining of my stomach wall threatened to tear at the possibility of one more bite. I’m sitting here sipping pure sugar in syrup-y slurps, feeling guilty, and then feeling afraid. And then there’s that flashing recognition of her eyes on mine, and I begin wishing I wouldn’t have eaten at all.

It’s like a drug. Normal people don’t understand it. They think it’s a control issue, and maybe it is…in the beginning. But once you’re in, you lose the control and you gain this little voice in your head that grows louder and louder all the time. Before you know it, you’re counting down the hours before you can go to bed so you won’t obsess over the possibilities of calorie consumption and how many more sit ups can I do and I am winning because I only ate this today. You aren’t happy until your ribs are showing and your hip bones are protruding, and then when they do, it’s too late for happiness. You’re too far gone, and it’s a dark, lonely world all around you. You walk around in a coma while people talk a little too much and laugh too loudly and ask too many questions and eat too much and it takes all you have just to stand there without closing your eyes tight, praying that you could be one of them but being terrified at the prospect just the same.

She looked into my soul with eyes that used to be mine, eyes that could easily be mine again. Part of me wanted to walk with her to wherever she was going and become her friend. I wanted to be let back in to that secret place. I wanted my arms to look like hers and my eyes to look big like that and I wanted. I wanted. I wanted. But she has been places I have not, and while part of me is disturbingly envious, there is another part of me that recognizes that I am happy for the first time in a long time. To not be able to laugh out loud would taste much like my soup. Lukewarm.