Mibodi and Me: A True Romance
I love Mibodi. She is beautiful, flexible and strong with smooth olive skin and a sensuous hourglass figure that expands and contracts but never changes its shape. I hate her, too. With her floppy belly, chunky arms, and cottage cheese thighs; her bigness that makes her hard to dress and harder still to get up and out and around.
We’ve known each other forever and got along so well that I didn’t realize we were separate entities until the summer I turned nine. We were at our weekly barbecue at Carillon Park on the Ottawa River. I was racing towards the beach in my favorite red bikini when a teenage boy called out, Hey, Fatso! Girls like you shouldn’t wear bikinis, eh? (Who says Canadians are nice? They can be frickin’ jerks.). At my annual check-up the doctor confirmed this to me - I was fine, Mibodi was not. I was sent to the first of many nutritionists and put on the first of many diets. I am strong and determined, with admirable will-power. But Mibodi is equally strong - she would get hungry, demanding to be fed, always wanting more. We fought a lot during those years. I starved, she binged, I complained, she balked. I hid in shame, she strutted her stuff. (And kept on wearing bikinis. She was always adamant about that.)
During pregnancy we struck a truce; I fed her dutifully and thoughtfully and she glowed, grew and birthed a beautiful baby, and then another and another. She nursed them, lifted them, carried them, held them, ran after them and seemed to have endless energy even after nights on end of caring for them. I thanked her, adored her, revered her (she was a goddess).
Then came time to bounce back (what a harsh term 'bounce back'; as if pregnancy and birthing and mothering are as inconsequential as a toss of a ball against a hard surface such that all that is required to make the transition from that state of being to another is summed up in a ‘bounce’). Let’s bounce! I said. Let’s do it! she cried. What do you need me to do? Out went the carbs and in came the running. Run and run and run and run, twenty-six-point-two-miles-to-be-precise and I praised her the whole way through (but then afterwards, looking at the pictures, I frowned, ugh, you look so fat.)
Mine is a conditional love. I love her when she gives to me and chide her when she asks for something in return. You’re always so tired! You’re always so hungry! What’s wrong with you, what’s wrong with you?! Why can’t you be like Otherbodies!?!
I am the boy in Silverstein’s poem, Mibodi the Giving Tree.
Recently, I came to rest on her stump.
Hey, I said.
Hey back, she responded. What do you need?
Hmm. That’s what I wanted to ask you. What do you need?
I’d love some more food. Some more rest. Less running. Less worrying about me all the time, I’m fine.
Yeah, OK. Let’s do it. You’ve been doing it my way all these years, and I thank you for that. But I’ve been bossing you around for way too long, so let’s do it your way now.
Oh, Sweetheart, she said. It’s not my way or your way, it’s our way. We’re in this together, always have been. Here — why don’t you take a seat and make yourself comfortable? Let’s watch a sunset together.
That’s the thing with Mibodi. She is confident enough to ask for what she wants, adaptable enough to work with what she has, and wise enough to shut out everything else and cherish our time here together.