Friday, April 01, 2005

Unfortunately, This is Pretty Much True

I didn't get a chance to scan the photo that was meant to go with this post. And now I am at my parents' house (conference is maybe a 25 minute drive from here), and even had I brought the photo with me, I wasn't going to even try to explain why I needed to use their scanner, etc. etc.

So I want you to imagine a snapshot of two high school kids dressed for the prom. Jonathan dressed in a tux, and Michelle dressed in a pink prom dress that she might have bought at a garage sale. You can tell that the dress -- and indeed the photo -- is from the 80s. (I'm pretty sure it's 1988 so 1989.) The dress, the hair, how young they look, the amateur composition of a family snapshot, that's what catches your attention in the photo. You probably wouldn't notice or mention Michelle's weight/size (unless I asked you about it). She doesn't look like a super model or an A-list celebrity or a survivor of genocide or any of the other standard examples of skinniness; she just looks like a teenager. I could look back at the old notes and letters that she wrote me to figure out how much she weighed in that picture; I would guess that it would be an amount that put her in the below average/underweight category (but not dangerously so), as that was the case almost the entire time I knew her.

As you can probably guess by now, Michelle was one of my closest friends in high school, and she was anorectic. Her weight would go down, her parents would threaten and yell, maybe pull her out of school and send her to private school, she would eat enough to get back up to merely underweight, and the cycle would start again. I never saw her when she was at her low, low weights, as that didn't happen very often (once every 2 years or so).

Things got especially serious when she was in college. She got down to a low weight again, got pulled out of school and put into the hospital. After she got out of the hospital, she took a series of low-level temp jobs and was planning on re-enrolling at a less prestigious school where she could live at home with her parents.

But that didn't happen, as 13 years ago today, she died.