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Don’t Gain the Freshman Fifteen. Worse Things Can Happen: Anorexia.

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Change was coming again, and I had a good feeling about our next move. This only proves that my powers as family prophet were dwindling.

Meg remained silent as we drove to the airport to say goodbye to her best friend. Kris’s family was leaving Oahu two weeks before us bound for Oklahoma. I knew what Meg was thinking: Here we go again; what will this move bring? My best friend is leaving. Will I ever see her again? I’m leaving a place I now love. College in Boston — it snows in Boston! I have to live in snow after living in a tropical paradise. And on and on.

Undoubtedly, it was an emotional parting for the two girls, but being teenagers they were too cool to cry in public. They promised to write and call and visit. After Kris’s plane finally took off (these were the days when you could actually wait with people until they boarded), we left the airport with Meg trailing behind us, trying to hide her sniffling. Soon it will be our turn.

Happily, after the movers packed us up, we head down to Honolulu again where the Air Force has paid for our lodging on Waikiki Beach. Staying at the historic Moana Surf Rider Hotel for our last three nights on Oahu was a joy. This was my idea of paradise. Built in 1901, the architecture of the Moana exuded the flavor of old Hawaii unlike so many banal high-rise hotels. Painted white, the Moana gleamed in the bright Hawaiian sunlight. Fronted by a wide porch with a slew of white rocking chairs and backed by a deep wrap-around veranda, you could picture Mark Twain sitting at one of the tables in his white suit jotting down a witty observation that would end up in Sacramento Daily Union.

In fact, every afternoon, they actually served High Tea on the veranda, and all the ladies receive a lovely carved fan; although, there was no chance of perspiring so close to those heavenly trade winds. I insisted we experience High Tea, and ever since then, if I have a fanciful notion, Meg sarcastically said, “High Tea Mom, High Tea,” to bring me back to reality. The hotel was built on the narrowest part of Waikiki Beach.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Mary, once again, the story you write is so well-told and deftly written that it surprises me all over again to remember that we are writing about an actual young girl who was in peril.

You're right about the Freshman 15. My college niece (now a junior) talked about it when she just entered school, though for a different reason: The food in their cafeteria was so good that she and her friends were all worried that they'd gain the Freshman 30. And this is a small midwestern college. The message everywhere is the same.

It makes me wonder why a university would allow "Don't Gain the Freshman 15" signs up at all. Freshmen have enough change to worry about without getting a message about their weight on the first day of school. When I think about it that way, it seems completely inappropriate.

Thank you so much for writing.

If someone reading this needs help with anorexia or bulimia, here's a link to get you started (and there's a toll-free hotline for help or advice):


March 31, 2009 - 8:40am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Diane Porter)

Thank you for your kind words. I’m not a writer, and I struggle with Meg’s story. I have conflicted feelings about telling such a personal story at all, but as my mother-in-law and others have said, “If it helps one person.”

You made a good point, and it's actually about the point of view I tell the story from. I try to write the story as I felt at the moment. Things were not always terrible. We had fun and tried to give Meg a good life. As a mom I felt "Meg" was always reacting to change, and with our help, she would get through it. But society and peers have as much influence, after a certain age, as parents. And that's hard to fight after young people leave their home. We never thought Meg would die from anorexia.

There’s a lot of procrastination that goes on so any encourage is helpful especially because now I’ve come to the hard part: the anorexia. Thank you for taking the time to comment.


April 1, 2009 - 10:28am
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