We were college sophomores. At the time, the most exciting new ice cream concept came to East Lansing, Michigan–design-your-own ice cream creations hand-mixed on a granite slab. We had your most well-known chains, Cold Stone Creamery and Maggie Moo’s. Same difference to me.
My freshman year, I became a ‘regular’ at the shop. To escape studying, or just get a treat, it became part of my weekly routine. They could have created a namesake for my order.
“Hi. Yes. Can I please have a ‘Love it!” (which is a medium) with chocolate ice cream, Oreos, bananas, and brownie?”
After developing an eating disorder my sophomore year, the term “ice cream” itself became my nemesis. The thought of consuming anything containing that amount of fat and calories felt toxic. So one night, after deciding we would venture out for ice cream together, my best friend and I went to Maggie Moo’s. When I struggled with Anorexia, I found myself engrossed in thoughts about food. When we got there, I immediately sought out the flavors, gawked through the clear window that was the divider between myself and the ice cream…and salivated over each and every flavor. If I stared long enough at the smooth, creamy, perfectly displayed ice cream, would it satisfy my craving?
My friend ordered first. “May I have your dark chocolate ice cream…” and I froze. Then, I became fixated on the fact that she so casually walked up, ordered ‘full-fat’ ice cream, added toppings, AND had a smile on her face! Why wasn’t I able to do that? Why did I need to order their only non-fat, sugar-free yogurt? It didn’t even taste good. “Toppings?” she asked me. “Sure, just sprinkle a tiny bit of Reese’s peanut butter cup on it. But, I mean tiny. No, not that much. Even less. Even a little less. I’m sorry.”
I was apologizing. Not just for being high maintenance and demanding, but because I had her mix in such a minuscule amount of candy in my ‘yogurt’ to make it look like I wasn’t as sick as I appeared.
When we sat down, I was still entranced in my thoughts. Because I ate Reese’s peanut butter cup (even if they were only crumbs), I needed to work out extra the next day. And, cut back on my calorie intake to make sure my weight didn’t change. I was obsessed…with what I ate…my body…and my weight. I wasn’t able to think about anything else. Except the fact that I wished so badly I could be in my best friend’s shoes–even for just one meal or snack–eat her delicious concoction, and, actually enjoy it–without scolding myself.
Tonight, as I drove my spoon deep into my ice cream bowl, I had vivid memories of that night we went to Maggie Moo’s. The difficulty I had in even being present in an ice cream shop, and restricting myself from having just about everything, I couldn’t help but feel liberated. I believe wholeheartedly that recovery is possible. I will continue down the path I’m on enjoying delicacies in remorselessness and satisfaction. It feels a hell of a lot better than it did that night. (And, yes. My best friend is who you call a best friend. Someone who sticks with you through the good…the bad…and the ugly.)