Bless to all,
There and Back Again. A Fat Girl's Tale.
Thailand. Beautiful, warm, sunny and humid. Resplendent with lush tropical forests, long white beaches and all manner of sins. For five days, we immersed ourselves in the idyllic madness that is Phuket. The bars, the hawkers, the 'massage' whores calling you suggestively from their shop windows. "You need massaze?" they cry. "Whe yu from? Russia? You pretty lady!" The the ladyboys dancing on tables, getting their tits out for 20c. The bars with their half-priced fish bowl cocktails and $2 beers. The endless stream of life, energy, noises and smells. The wild untamed humanity thrumming in the streets. The complete and utter madness.
Five days we went without internet, mobile phones, watches or even pen and paper. Nothing at all to remind us that we're part of a larger world, connected to the people around us. Five days insulating ourselves, hiding away and taking whatever escapism we can find, in whatever form. Five days not writing.
For the record, I'm not Russian.
I have struggled with not being able to write. Not being able to communicate the constant noise jangling in my head, quieten the beast. My husband loves my writing. He has bought me beautiful hand-bound leather notebooks, just so my words have a place of beauty and austerity in which to reside. Often, when he is away, I'll knock up a short story for him and email it to whatever corner of the world he's in. Something to remind him of home, or how happy/sad/funny/dark/beautiful life is/can be/was. He loves it when I do that. He tells me I should just write forever. But you can't write when you're on holidays in Thailand. Especially if the reason you write is to deny your own humanity.
Five days of pure life. It's a little daunting. The only thing more daunting is the slow realisation that no matter how hard I try, or what lies I tell, I'm going to have to - at some point - eat food. I'm unable to fast. Not even a little. Food is everywhere in Thailand. Everywhere and cheap. You can't walk 5 metres without a street vendor waving a roasted corn cob at you, or offering to boil an egg, or grill up some kind of meat on a stick. It's everywhere. An undeniable, in-your-face reminder of humanity and all of its needs. And it tastes so good. Not writing, too much alcohol and way too much food. Trifecta of madness.
Of course, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that the madness is always there. A constant companion. Always there, just beneath the seething surface, waiting for a scratch... One such scratch happened to me the night before we left.
I found my husband's stash of condoms. I was packing. Digging around in the bathroom cabinets for the 'Travelling In Asia First Aid Kit' I had made up many trips before. I shift aside an old box of throat lozenges and a handful of condoms fall out. My heart stops. I count them. There are five. They have "Product of Thailand" on the back. I know for a fact, that condoms are sold in packets of three, six, twelve and twenty four. But not five. I ask my husband about them. He said he doesn't remember when/how/why/if he'd put them in there, lie, lie lie.
I suddenly hate him again. Burning, twisting hate. He must have fucked someone else at some stage whilst on one of his many trips to Thailand by himself, how else could five condoms with "Product of Thailand" on the back be explained? I ask him point-blank if he's fucked anyone else in Thailand during the time we've been together. He says no. Liar, liar, pants on fire. But who cares anyway? He's done it once with Canadian Slut, I have no idea how many other times he's done the dirty on me. I let the subject drop, but I maliciously throw the remaining five condoms onto his bedside table as a reminder, a visible reminder of his infidelity.
My madness comes flooding out of the scratch, ready to consume me. I decide to let it.
We go on holidays together. I let him believe that the condoms are gone from my mind. We're going on holidays. It's going to be awesome. It's going to be better than our honeymoon. We're going to reconnect. And of course, it is, and we do. But I'm still insane.
We sit together on the plane, holding hands, talking about what we're going to do, the places we'll go, will we have enough time to go diving, visit an island, go sailing. We feel happy. We get there, we go to a hotel, the beach, the bars. We kiss, hold hands, plan trips, go places, get drunk, fuck and eat. We do a lot of fucking. We do even more eating.
We swim in the hotel pool, then in the ocean. The waves knock me over, my breasts fall out of my bikini, the pants slide up my ass. My husband looks at me and laughs, happily. He calls me 'Surfer Girl' and pulls me in tight against himself as the waves crash around us, kissing me. We hire a body board and ride as many waves as we can catch, until our bellies are rubbed raw and bleeding from the board's rough surface. My husband is laughing, he is happy. I feel huge. I shouldn't be in a bikini. I'm too fat, too white, too fat. But I don't say that, instead I laugh too, pretend I'm also happy.
We eat more. Then we get drunk and fuck some more. We tell each other that we love one another. We go out again. We drink more, eat more. We almost pick up a Thai hooker and take her back to our room for a threesome, but I cry and say I can't. I say I'm too insecure, I feel too ugly, too fat. Too large and white to be seen naked next to the tiny slip of a girl who might also be a man.
My husband is not angry. He holds me gently while I cry, kissing my forehead and stroking my hair. "It's ok baby, we don't have to, I don't need to." He tells me. "I've got problems too, you know. I'm too skinny. (True.) And you're beautiful, really beautiful. More beautiful than any of my ex-girlfriends. Sometimes, I can't look at you, you're too beautiful. And you're not fat. Not any more." (False.)
We go back to our room and fuck like animals, desperate to validate ourselves to each other, trying to be real, trying to lose our fears, our insecurities, our insubstantial notions of self. Hide ourselves in the sex. He fucks me hard, doing all the things we did (and a few we didn't) when we first started dating. My vagina starts to hurt, we keep on fucking. He tells me he loves me, that I'm sexy, not fat.
But I am fat. Very fat. All the eating is killing me, every mouthful of food going straight to my jiggling, flabby thighs, my huge rounded ass. I can feel the earth tremble beneath my very feet with every step I take. I am a giant, surrounded by tiny people, all in danger of being crushed beneath my vast bulk. I am Gulliver, trampling the Lilliputians beneath him. I feel horrible in my bright blue bikini, I can feel the eyes of the other guests on me as I try and slip into the pool unnoticed. I'm sure the water level rises by at least three feet. In my head, I can hear what they're saying:
Guest 1: "Holy shit! Dude! Check it out! There's a whale in the pool!"
Guest 2: "No way! That's awesome! Let's see if we can touch it!"
Guest 1: "Hey, hang on, nah, it's just some fat white chick, I don't wanna touch that!"
Guest 2: "Eeeww! Way to gross me out, dude! I just ate!"
I swim three laps around the pool, I need to exercise, to burn off the food I've been eating, the alcohol I've been drinking. I can see my ass getting bigger, my belly heavier, arms thicker, thighs... oh, the thighs! Don't talk about the thighs! We decide one morning to go to the hotel gym, my husband wants to grow muscles, I want to lose weight. I weigh myself. Seventy three kilos. Seventy Fucking Three. I work out as hard as I can, thinking of the pool, the food and the condoms. I feel better. When we go back to our room, I dig out my stash of laxies and take a few. They make me feel safe. We have breakfast, I eat like a pig. Pig, pig, PIG.
We continue to eat, 'healthy' Thai food. I make sure I always get plenty of chilli in whatever I order. We only ever order enough for one person and share. I take a few bites and pass the rest off to my husband, have more laxatives, eat more food, laxatives, food, laxatives, food... You get the picture. My ass feels like it's constantly on fire. It's all fine and dandy until I run out of laxatives. Then I start to panic. I try to eat less, but all I want to do is binge, binge, binge, binge. 'Little Pig!' The voice in my head squeals. My husband remarks that I'm eating more than usual. He tells me it's ok, because it's healthy. He doesn't think I've gained any weight. I try to stop eating, I try to hate myself some more. But it's hard, so very very hard. I feel almost loved. And I want to do is eat. Madness rushing over me.
Finally it ends. We leave the mania of Phuket behind and fly to Singapore. Reality comes crashing back down on us with an unwelcome thud. My husband will be staying in Singapore most of this week for work. We check into the fancy hotel his company is paying for and I go shopping. I buy more laxatives and take eight. When I come back, my husband has ordered room service, a club sandwich - just one - which he says we can share. He eats half, I pick at the other half, he eats what I don't eat, I eat the salad, more laxatives. We go to bed, but we don't fuck. Fucking is for holidays, reserved solely for drunken nights, Thai hookers and Canadian Sluts. We're not on holidays any more, my husband has to work now.
He has a very difficult job ahead of him. He is stressed, anxious, unhappy. He clings to me in the night, reaching for me constantly, holding my hand, touching my hair, asking me to wrap myself around him. He needs me, desperately. While I'm not entirely convinced that he'll never cheat again, or tell me the whole truth about he previous indiscretions, I am now fairly certain that after this, our latest adventure, I am firmly entrenched in his mind as being "The-Only-One-I-Want-To-Be-With-For-The-Rest-Of-My-Life". I should hope so, I mean, we are fucking married.
Morning comes and he orders more room service; fruit, yoghurt, juice, tea. He eats a fraction, I eat the rest (followed by more laxatives). He says he's not feeling well. I iron his shirts, he gets ready to leave. I won't see him again until Friday - I'm flying out in a few hours. He holds me close and tells me how much he loves me. He sheds a few tears and then walks out the door without looking back. I make the bed, (stupid really, seeing as how room service does all that shit anyway) pack my bag and catch a taxi to the airport. I get on a plane, he stays in Singapore. My madness - hatred - burns in my chest, both familiar and comforting. I make sure I have an aisle seat when I check in, so that going to the bathroom isn't a hassle.
I board the plane and begin wait out the eternal tedium that is international flying. I go to the bathroom several times. I notice that the floor of the bathroom, where countless men and women have either sat or stood, has been worn into the shape of a diamond. For some sordid reason, it amuses me. Before I flush, I check to see if I recognise anything which has come out as being something I've eaten recently. I do. Good.
The plane lands. My mother picks me up at the airport. I'll only be with her for one night and half a day. Too short, really, but it was cheaper to come home that way, and I get to see my mum. She loves me like no one else does, I love her right back. She says I'm looking good. Great even. When we get home, the phone rings, it's my husband. He is lonely, missing me, wants to hear my voice. We chat for three minutes before saying goodnight. I briefly wonder if he's bought any more condoms.
I spend the morning happy with my mother, after which, she takes me back to the airport and I get on another plane. I'm heading back to the vapid, backward city I call home. I sit on the plane, bored, frustrated, stuck next to a man who smells like he hasn't washed in several weeks. I pick up the In Flight Magazine in a vague attempt to distract myself from the insidious menu lodged next to it and flick through the glossy pages. It has an article about Miami in it. Miami. The city where my husband and the Canadian Slut went to fuck. Assholes. I order two bottles of water and some biscuits.
I wish I could write something, shut the noise up in my head, it's so fucking noisy in there. It seems wrong to scribble on the magazine, but my urge to write and write and write is pathological. I should really carry a note pad with me, but I can never find one when I need it. I write on the magazine. I keep a napkin over my fingers as I write, trying to keep my words secret. Hiding them from the large, smelly (possibly illiterate) man next to me. But just in case, I decide to write in French, that way he definitely won't understand. I scribble on the napkin, just to see if my pen still works. It does. I tell myself "I'm going to take this magazine home, I need it, I need my words..." but in truth, I'm tempted to leave it in the seat pocket for the next person to find, to read, to see me.
I suddenly and overwhelmingly miss my husband. My sweet, darling, loving, generous-to-a-fault, cheating, lying husband. I miss his comforting company. But more acutely, I miss the loving calmness I feel when I'm with him, jarring against the fear and hatred when I'm not. He and I are tangled up together in a mesh of fucked-up-ness, which will either make us great or strangle us and tear us apart. I can't see which it will be. I look back at the magazine. At the article about Miami. The city where they went together. To fuck. I check again to see if my pen is still working. It is. I write more on the magazine, then I think about food. How much I've had today, how many laxies. How many trips to the bathroom I've made. I think about the biscuits I've bought. I try to keep looking at the magazine.
The pictures throw my memory back to a conversation we had whilst waiting for food one night. I asked my husband if the Thai woman serving us looked like Canadian Slut. He said she looked nothing like her. But that Canadian Slut is short like the woman and has similar features. I asked if Canadian Slut was way hotter than the woman. He said "I never said Canadian Slut* (*name has been changed) was way hot. She wasn't exactly thin either, you know."
He then proceeds to put her down. Telling me that she's a nutjob. That she's emotionally unstable, insecure, needy, un-loveable. Nothing at all like me. He lays it on really thick. Tells me how happy he is to have me with him this time. About how sad he feels when he has to leave me for work. How much he wants to take me with him every time he does leave, how he feels like he can't live without me or with himself when we're apart. I throw up a little bit in my mouth. "Steady on.." I tell him. But I'm thinking about the condoms. I'm sure that's what's making him feel so guilty. It has to be.
The plane begins it's decent. The large, smelly man next to me stares resolutely at the chair in front of him. Perhaps he's read what I've written about him and is trying not to punch me. I stopped covering my words with the napkin long ago, so it's a distinct possibility. But probably not. I take the magazine with me when I go. I leave the biscuits.
A picks me up from the airport. She asks me if I've eaten anything. "I ate on the plane." I tell her (Lie). She buys it. She'll be gone soon and I can have my life back. I cling to that thought like a child to it's safety blanket. We go home, I shower and head to bed. The condoms are still where I left them. They laugh at me. All five of them. I hate them too.
In the morning, my husband returns. I'm supposed to be at work, but have shuffled my hours around so I can pick him up from the airport. He doesn't know that I'm coming to get him. It's a surprise. Surprise or test, however you choose to see it. I'm trying to tell myself it will be a surprise, a lovely surprise. One which will loosen the mesh wrapped around us, soften the cords. Help us heal, trust one another. Quell the madness.
But the madness is not so easily quelled. Not so easily pushed back beneath the surface. That takes time and time is precious. Right now, all I want is Thin.
I'm back again.