To say I live in an unruly body presupposes that the body and the mind are separate things: I inhabit this place, rather than I am this place. This separation is something I’m working to dismantle for and in myself, though that separation served me very, very well for as long as my body allowed.
So why dismantle it? Because it is the challenge I repeatedly haven’t faced. Because I have proven almost everything else to myself, and now it’s time to do the really hard work. Because other women have come forward and said aloud what happened to them, and they’ve been finally and vehemently believed, so why not me too?
Also, because I have a vomit problem. One that, up until Americans made a sexual predator of our president, I was able to write off as only mildly inconvenient. I’d even given it a cute name: The Crucet Curse. All the women in my family experience our stress in our digestive tracts, though for everyone else, the trouble (when it comes) is at the other end. My system may have it backwards, but it’s still there, the curse: something so part of who I’ve become that throwing up when something nerve-wracking approaches is — to those who know and love me — just that weird thing Jennine does.
I should say that I’ve been told my work is sometimes too gross, too visceral. But when vomit comes up — pun intended — in something I’ve written, I know I’m writing from the honest center of myself. The squeamish might want to stop reading here.
My vomit problem began late in high school, during a date that went very badly. Me-Now thinks back to this night — the dimly lit booth, the spiral-bound menus splayed open on the table, the cloud of cologne wafting across the table — and wants to grab Me-Then by her too-bony shoulder and say, Let’s get the fuck out of here. This is going to get much worse.
I know that girl wouldn’t move. I know Me-Then would think Me-Now is very weird, living far from the ocean and convinced she must wear tights under every dress to feel safe. Me-Then would be shocked that Me-Now has yet to produce any children. Me-Then would have harsh things to say about the…