In high school I aspired to be anorexic or bulimic, but the truth is I just wasn’t motivated enough. I would join a sport for a semester—basketball, gymnastics, soccer, track—but I’d quickly lose interest and find myself exactly where I’d begun: lying on the floor with a Smiths album on repeat while thinking about boys. It was the only activity I was able to dedicate myself to. And because my weight was really not the reason boys were not interested in me—it was likely a host of skin and personality flaws—I could safely misdirect my attention without accidentally fixing myself. I didn’t want to do the soul-searching or book-reading that would make me realize the person I really wanted to be. I just wanted to be thin. And then I wanted that to be enough.
But there were obstacles: I wanted to eat; I didn’t want to throw up. I could not, in fact, seem to make myself throw up. Puking had been a sport I’d excelled in as a child—even in my sleep meals would climb easily and silently from my stomach and out of my mouth to spread across my parents’ laps and pillow cases—but my skills had faded.
Like any kid bordering Canada, though, I’d seen Anne of Green Gables enough times to know what ipecac was. It was the final frontier. The answer to my listless, directionless longing, and it was so easy to buy. You just ask the pharmacist for it and she hands it over, regardless of the distrusting side-long glance she gives you as she passes the goods across the counter toward your pimpled teenage face.
The problem may have been that ipecac tastes like poisoned maple syrup and it may have been that it did not make me throw up. The problem may have been that it made me hate everything for twenty-four hours, at the end of which I threw the bottle away and promised myself I’d just jog more—right after I rested, for a Meat Is Murder-length moment, on the floor.
Or the problem may have been me.