Editor’s Note: I’ve been sitting on this post for about 2 months. It’s sad for me to admit, so it was harder to post than I thought it would be. Please be kind with your comments.
You know how you can replay a memory in your head and remember what you wore or exactly what the other person said? Well I can literally look back at all my memories and tell you what I was eating. It’s kinda scary actually! I was joking with my brother and my mom that all my memories from childhood are tied to food (trips to Canobie Lake with ham and cheese calzones for lunch and hotdogs/french fries with malt vinegar for dinner), day trips to NH and stopping for lunch at this place called Neil’s (OMG the best peanut butter pie ever, sometimes I dream about it). I remember all my birthday cakes (or graduation cakes ~ like the “Snow Queen” cake from Rosie’s Bakery in Somerville I had when I graduated college in 2003. Golden butter cake layered with raspberry preserves and vanilla butter cream and frosted on the outside with vanilla butter cream Mmmmmm!). I remember all the special meals I’ve shared with friends and I can literally tell you exactly what I ate and where before I can tell you how I felt, what was going on in my life etc.
You know where you were when JFK got shot? I know exactly what I was eating on my 29th birthday ~ right down to the chocolate layer cake with ganache.
Is that creepy? (Don’t feel bad if you’re shaking your head yes.). 🙂
Looking back I think around age 8 or 9 I turned to food to soothe my unhappiness about being chubby….which in turn made me chubbier. It was a vicious cycle. I can’t say “oh food was only friend”. No, I always had friends. I was always “happy” but I feel like in hindsight something was always missing and I filled that void with food. I still don’t know what that was. I can’t tell you why I chose to overeat, why I chose food over activities or food over friendship – but I did and it really makes me sad to not only recognize but to admit out loud.
I guess if I was perfectly honest with myself….I was (am?) a food addict. I blogged about the topic once before and I thought I would have some clarity by now. But I don’t. I’m still puzzled.
I joke that I am a fat kid at heart, but I think it’s more than that.
I liked food. I loved food (sometimes I still do). I turned to it in order to mask the emotions I was feeling. I used food as my drug to subdue the negativity of being a teenager in limbo like all teenagers are (or a twenty-something still unclear about her path in life). Oh wow, there we go … that’s progress. Some people mask their emotions with sarcasm (I do that too – but not as much as I used to), drinking (negative. Enjoy a cocktail with dinner, never had a drinking problem and never drank to mask emotions) or drugs (big no)….but I did it with food. I ate when I was happy, I ate when I was sad, I ate when I was angry….(you get the idea).
Food was a universal constant in my life.
That universal constant is now embedded in my memories. Like when you hear a song and suddenly you’re flooded with a rush of emotions and images of somebody that you used to know (or love). You are literally stopped dead in your tracks, reliving a time that has long since passed in a way so tangible you can almost feel it.
That’s how I feel about food.
I drove by a carnival in LA last week. The sights, sounds and smells hit me at once and I was struck my the memory of being 14 eating funnel cake/cotton candy until I could barely walk – with my best friend whom I swore I’d never lose touch with. Now she isn’t even a blip on my radar but I still have the fat memories to relive.
Sometimes I wonder if these memories will be with me forever, like stretch marks. Will I always associate food with events? Will I always remember what I ate before I remember details of the evening I shared with people I love? Will food always be my #1 even when I reach my goal weight? Can I somehow overcome this weird bond?
I honestly don’t know.
Even today, with healthier choices and only the occasional splurge I can reflect on everything I ate before I can tell you about the conversations had. I don’t like this about myself ~ but I’m also not sure how to change it. How do you re-associate memories? Can you?