|Entry #3- Julia
||[Nov. 4th, 2009|09:28 pm]
Whatever Blows Our Hair Back...
|||||Fireflies- Owl City||]|
The peppiness that seems to float around Julia like a fluffy aura dims slightly as she recollects this time in her childhood. Personally I have a difficult time reconciling the child she describes with the trim young womans sitting in front of me. Of course I hear stories regularly these days about people who lose vast amounts of weight, but Julia just looks like one of those lucky girls who’s got it in her genes.
She fiddles absently with her spoon sitting in the still-full cup of coffee. I see her eye it, but I can’t read her expression.She continues.
In sixth grade I changed schools. Our local junior high was much bigger than what I was used to, where the graduates from three surrounding elementary schools were sent. I knew a few people in my classes, but most of the kids were unfamiliar to me. To our dismay, Amber and I only had one class together. I guess you could say this was the beginning of the end for us, even though we remained close until the end of seventh grade. It was inevitable that we’d both find new people to be friends with in all of that time that we were spending away from each other. Like the process of getting really fat, it was gradual, and I didn’t notice right away.
But sixth grade was still a bit like an extension of fifth grade. I still played with the neighborhood kids after school, assuming I didn’t have homework (another unfortunate result of changing schools and moving up a grade). Amber and I still hung out almost daily, being next door neighbors and all. And there were differences too, the most noticeable being my huge giant ass and gut, and the beginnings of a set of knockers too.
I’m exaggerating very slightly. I was growing boobs, and I had gained weight, but I hadn’t seen the worst of my girth. I saw the doctor again before I started, and he told my mother the same thing as the year before, that I should go on a diet. I don’t want to make anybody think that my offense to the sacred scale was really grievous. I was only about fifteen or twenty pounds over what I should’ve been. But it was as if my mother felt the need to redouble her efforts. I never got any chips at all in my lunch any more.
On the bright side, my parents were more than happy to pay for my participation in sports. Our junior high offered a wider variety, and team sports, while elementary school had just been PE on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I tried volleyball, basketball, swim team and track, all with moderate success, but not much weight loss. I wish my doctor would have saved his concerns over my obesity to when I was a little older. Looking back, eleven years old is a little young to be worrying about weight.
Julia pauses again, her face almost a scowl. The more she talks, the more what I realize is a really skillful façade slips down just a fraction. I blink and it’s up again, her face clear, her smile as real as it looked from the beginning. Exercise and diet aren’t the only things Miss Julia Romanova is good at.
One thing I remember in particular about sixth grade was that it was the first year anybody mocked me about my size. It wasn’t anything extremely hateful; it just surprised me slightly, gave me another reason to feel a bit insecure. It was at one Wednesday afternoon track practice. The history class was covering the Cold War, and one of the boys from my class decided to make fun of the way I was standing or something. Who knows what sets these kids off?
He puffed out his chest and stomach and slapped it so it jiggled and said in a thick and bad Russian accent, “I eeem Yoolia Romanoffa, beeyoootiful Ruussian laydee. In de Mothaland, de Russian laydee lookee likeh de mahn!” His friends were in stitches. I didn’t really get the humor, so I rolled my eyes and ignored him. He and his friends called me “Yoolia” for two weeks before they figured out that I didn’t really care.
But I’d never thought of myself as looking very manly. Did I? Carefully I mentally weighed myself in comparison to the other girls on the track team. There were only four others, and I was definitely the heaviest. I was not the slowest though. What was the problem then?
It happened again one evening when I was spending the night over at Amber’s. We were up in her room, listening to her boy band music and talking about school and boys and movie stars and fashion and gossiping about the people in our class. We were also trying on clothes. She was showing me some pair of pants with glitter stars on the back pockets. I was rummaging around when I found a pink top with a black electric guitar on the front, hanging out of her laundry hamper. Don’t ask me why, but I thought it looked awesome. So without thinking I pulled off my sweater and put the pink shirt on over my head, just to see how it would look.
“No, not that one, you’ll stretch it out!” Amber blurted, then winced as if she was biting her tongue. I knew she was embarrassed. I suppose I would be too. I guess it hadn’t dawned on me that she would have noticed that we were vastly different body shapes too.
I covered up the awkwardness very easily. It’s kind of what I do. “Whatever, Amber, you’re not that much smaller than me.” Lies from the pit. But she latched onto it with all the tact and diplomacy that young girls are beginning to learn for when they grow up and have to not put their feet in their mouths in the first place. “Sorry, it just fits me weird. Your boobs are bigger than mine, so I was afraid it would stretch out and then people would think I stuffed my bra.” Nice save, Amber! I applauded mentally. Now my feelings weren’t hurt, and she could think that she only had a near miss. She’d learn and we wouldn’t have this problem again.
It was true though. Amber was flat as a board, and I was rocking out a set of B’s already. It was my sad little consolation prize in a world where all of my girl friends were beginning to notice their fronts. But let me tell you: a set of boobs on a fat girl don’t have the same allure as the same set on a skinny girl. Hell if I wasn’t going to take what I could get though.
I would like to say that I carried my weight well though. As the year went on, I started paying more attention to what I wore, what the other girls were wearing, how I should act, what I should say, what I should and shouldn’t watch and listen to. Junior high was an entire culture. I dressed less in hand-me-downs from my older siblings, and made my mom buy me pretty clothes that fit me well. Of course there are episodes of lament that occur when you begin to let your jean size identify you, but Mom often told me to just not look. I tried. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, but Amber helped me figure out ways to style my unruly hair and lent me earrings and necklaces. Jewelry and hair were safe, after all.
I’m beginning to lose count of the ways Amber helped me. She had been absorbed into one of the popular crowds (our school was big enough for more than one!), but still had the grace and good will to publicly be my friend. I was moderately popular by proxy.
Word count 1,326. Completely cut off, because quite frankly, it was late, I was tired, and there are some Other Things I like doing besides writing :-)