Catherine Peng

I like facts. I like that the sky is blue and the grass is green and that celebrities are white. Sometimes when I’m walking to class or to Saybrook (the only two destinations I ever have), I feel sort of weightless, like there’s nothing tethering me down to the ground. It’s difficult to be here.

The first week of school, I was at the Yale Bookstore because I wanted to be there. I missed my school over the summer. It felt kind of nice to be surrounded by notebooks and pens and shirts and sweaters and belt clips and mouse pads branded with my school’s name. Yale. My first year, that name felt so heavy on my shoulders. Yale. So strong and straight — you know the font I’m talking about, right? When I say or hear my school’s name, I say and hear it in that font. At “identity.yale.edu,” it says that the font’s name is “Yale” too.

I was standing in the middle of the $70 “Y” sweaters when I saw her. She was standing close to the corner, by the “Y” lanyards. She was really very pretty. She had blonde hair. She was crying. Her right hand was covering her face and her left was clutching a “Y” wristlet. I don’t know why I approached her. I usually don’t, because when I cry in public, I like to be left alone. I like to pretend that I can make myself invisible through sheer force of will, that all of the tiny little things that make me up just vibrate too quickly to be seen.

I don’t know why, but I approached her. I was nervous. I didn’t want to bother her, but I managed a kind of quiet “Are you okay?”

Her right hand came down a little. She looked at me. I am an Asian girl, 5’2”, 128 lbs. My hair is light brown. It was up. I was on my way home from a run. My face was red. Her face was red, too. She looked at me, and she was okay for just a second. Then she started to cry again. Her parents had just left. Her father gave her $800 in cash. His name was Jeremy. Jeremy gave her $800 even though her family doesn’t make much. Then her mother kissed her on the cheek, her father gave her a tense hug, and then they left. Now she’s alone in a bookstore, holding $800 in one hand and her face in the other. We talked for awhile.

I really like facts. I like knowing things. Maybe that’s why I’m here. I like knowing that everything is made of tiny, tiny particles and those tiny, tiny particles interact with each other to make everything else. (I took two semesters of college chemistry, but that’s really all I can tell you.) I like knowing that Malinowski was one of the early anthropologists and that “poder” is the Spanish verb that means “to be able to” and that it’s an irregular verb. This is undisputable.

This morning I weighed myself. Every morning I weigh myself. I am 128.3 pounds or 58.2 kilograms. For the past couple of years, just knowing how much I weigh was enough. The knowledge gave me some control. Now the number makes me feel icky. It makes me want to rip open my body and just … I don’t know. I just know it makes me feel disgusting and uneven and lazy and stupid and ugly. It makes me want to sit in front of a toilet and vomit.

I went to lunch with a friend today. She’s very cool. She thinks I’m cool, I think. She tells me that she likes how honest I am and the way I look at other people. She tells me that I’m a ray of sunshine. I like that she thinks that.

I almost made myself vomit on Sept. 17, around 10 p.m. I had an Arethusa ice cream cone. I had eaten it recently enough for most of it to still come up, if I wanted it to. If I wanted it to. I climbed a flight of stairs and I opened their bathroom and I locked their door and I thought about the 128.3 pounds that make up my body. 128.3 pounds of bone and organ and tissue and cells and atoms and heart and soul and fat and ice cream. And even though I could feel the sugar turning into yellow fatty cells, I didn’t vomit. I think that maybe right now that’s enough. That it’s okay.

I think that I’m okay.

My name is Agnes Enkhtamir. I’m nineteen years old. I go to Yale College. I am going to major in theater studies and cognitive science. I have a mother and a father and a brother that love me. I have friends here that care about me. These are the things that tether me to the ground. Not 128.3 pounds.