Marlena Raines

On Tuesday, February 18: winter hit for real. It’s not weather that tells me when it’s winter, it’s my body’s hibernation mechanisms. In the winter I plow through carbs like a drunk teen on a snowmobile. I can eat an entire pizza and forget about it moments later. In fact, I have eaten an entire pizza and forgotten about it moments later. The only lingering evidence is stray crumbs stuck to a glaze of chest sweat worked up while mowing down the slices. Usually, my resting state of winter calls for me first in the yawning hours of morning: a weight in my limbs hugging me warm and cuddly like a weighted blanket or velvet bedroom handcuffs. My bed embraces me as my iPhone howls from the floor. Like a woman’s scream in childbirth, I’m reminded of the pain I expected but for which I was not prepared. 

This year winter came for me in the Hopper College Dining Hall. Despite the sunny skies and mere nibble of cold outdoors, my body knew what was coming. Tuesday night in Hopper I set my unseeing eyes on a new extreme, beyond the circumference of a pizza. Why should I confine myself to the culinary aspirations of the masses? A small voice inside my soul told me I’m worth more, not like the other girls. And thus, as the titular mouse in the groundbreaking illustrated narrative “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” I needed more. 

I hit the ingredients buffet and perused the Mediterranean options first, but all along I knew where I’d end up. Once I’d laid out two slices of doughy bread, it was only a matter of toppings. I started with a slather of PB on one side and Nutella on the other for adhesive purposes. In the zone at this point, I slid my paper plate down the line jumping around a Lululemon-clad blonde and a boy in a “LEAP” t-shirt and glasses to catch my plate at the end by the ice cream toppings. I latticed up a layer of marshmallows and waltzed to the far side of the cafeteria for a dusting of Smart Start to give a little life to my meal. To accompany, a splash of soy milk loaded into one of those squat plastic cups you’d drink champagne from at an office function. The thick milk substitute paired well because of its comforting breast-milk consistency and color. As I bit into the creation at a speed I cannot recall but would like to relate in extreme slow-motion, a nearby diner commented solemnly, staring sans embarrassment: “I have respect for that.” 

With each bite I fell deeper into revelry. First, the sourdough nudged lightly against my bite, teasing my teeth deeper into my meal. I pressed on to the crackle of Smart Start, a giggle in my mouth. The crunch of cereal decomposed on the roof of my mouth while my tongue hit plush ‘mallow downstairs. It’s the gooey insides of creamy PB and chocolatey ’tella that get me, wrestling my tongue over itself to gag the mix down. As my airways cement over, I guzzle soy beverage. A daze of gagging and guzzling in the dying February light. 

It’s moments like these I’m sure I’ll look back on in the years to come. Moments in which I listened to the soft animal of my body to let her love what I love. What you remember is not what is said or done, but how you’ve been made to feel.

Julia Leatham | julia.leatham@yale.edu