Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I had a cousin named Mickey when I was little.  Mickey was fat.  Very fat.  He probably weighed over six hundred pounds.  Obesity was less common in those days, but according to my mom, it ran in my dad's side of the family. 

Mickey lived with his mom Gladys in Deer Lodge, Montana.  Gladys was my dad's aunt and Mickey was my dad's favorite cousin.  My mom recently told me that we used to drive to visit him on vacation. 

"You sat out on the steps with him don't you remember?  It was 1976, the same year Roberta got married," my mom said.  She rambled on, "Mickey was such a nice person."

Mickey was supposed to be Jackie's nino (godfather), but something happened and my uncle Roland offered to fill in.  I had to share my godfather just like everything else in my childhood. 

In 1977, Mickey had weight loss surgery.  Soon after, he had a heart attack and died.  Mickey lost his weight too fast and his body couldn't handle it.

At Jackie's high school graduation in 1989, Uncle Roland brought Jackie a present and gave her a big hug.  I remember thinking, I wish we had different godfathers.  Mickey's image flitted through my mind the way long forgotten memories sometimes do. 

I watched Jackie and my best friend Tracy graduate from the bleachers.  My mom wouldn't talk to me.  My former classmates looked at me with awkward faces.  I had dropped out after sleeping my way through most of my senior year.  That time is still fuzzy.  No one thought to ask why I slept so much.  I took my GED that summer. 

I was always skinny when I was little.  My favorite outfit in elementary school was a pair of "slim" pale blue dittos and my green frog shirt.   Jackie struggled with her weight.  I never had to worry.

My dietician and I went over my weight history about six months ago.  My weight gain has been slow, about ten pounds a year for the last ten or twelve years.  It has been a gradual slide downhill. 

Yet, I refuse to categorize myself as merely a fat girl.  I am more than the sum of my pounds.  About twelve years ago, I graduated from UCR with high honors and watched my mom and dad cry in the audience.  Nine years ago, I graduated from USC Law School and got a job at the largest law firm in Texas.  Yeah, that's right, this high school dropout and former waitress rubbing elbows with Texas elite, except, I never really fit in.

Six years ago, my dad died and I moved back home and started writing about my childhood.  Four years ago, I decided to share my stories and attended the VONA writing workshop in San Francisco.  That same year, I applied to the Public Defender's Office.  In short, I found my bliss.  Then, my weight started to get to me both emotionally and physically.

Life is strange.  If you are not careful it can pass you by.  I am almost forty and I hope I can change again.  I have a lot left in me.  Just like I know I have a book in me, I know there is still a skinny girl inside of me.  She is gorgeous.  Her outside matches her inner strength. 

In ten years, I hope I will look back at the last years as my fat, albiet productive, phase.

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