before the scream.

i have an unbelievably slow reaction time.

i take time to process things. quite a bit of time. maybe too much time?

at one point in utah i came out of a friend's bathroom, rounded the corner, and found myself face-to-face with a very tall man. in the dark. he jumped in my path. i stood there. for a second. processed it (kind of). felt the adrenaline pulse through my body (you know that wave of heat that hits?) and proceeded to let out one of those screams that girls are known for: high, loud, and truly terrifying.

and then i laughed so hard i nearly wet my pants. because i knew the very tall man. i knew him as a friend. a friend trying to give me a fright. and i was aware of just how delayed my reaction was.

in fact he joked that before my departure he'd succeed in terrifying me and then making it out of the room in that bit of space before the scream.

the thing is, my reaction has always been slow. and yes, laughably so. i remember my brother jumping out at me when we were kids. he'd pop from behind a closet door. a bedroom door. a tree. the laundry hamper. and i would stand there. stare for a second. and then let loose a cry of such terror my parents would come running.

i'm slow to react. and i'm a late bloomer. and quite often the uptake takes me just a little-bit-longer than everyone else.

such is my cross. my burden to bear.

someone recently apologized to me. said they were sorry my time in utah wasn't everything i hoped it would be. and i thought, they must have known more about my expectations than even me.

because i didn't know what to expect. that was the beauty of it--i who attempts to control all things (again, my cross) relinquished, gave up, said let's try. what will be, will be (a very unusual moment of courage on my part).

and then another friend recently remarked that for something i dubbed "my adventure in utah" i certainly didn't have much to say about it. to which i replied, because it was precisely that: my adventure. my experience. and at the end of the day it was just for me.

so you want to know why i went? really, want to know?

because after almost five year of struggling to recover from an eating disorder that nearly destroyed me (and no i'm not employing hyperbole) i was happy. and healthy. and i thought, why, the hell not? to go to utah and play juliet and act for the first time in two years because someone sent me an email, because one person happened upon my blog one day and though i might be able to do it? it's too odd, to unusual a twist in my story to say no to.

and so i went.

and the eating disorder resurfaced.

it became clearer, came into focus a bit more, but steamrolled me nonetheless.

and so for the three months there, while yes i learned invaluable things, i floundered. and the eating disorder chipped away at me.

and my parents patiently told me i'd be fine. it was just a hiccup. i wasn't back at the beginning.

but it felt like the beginning.

you see, recovering from this ghastly addiction has been a marvelous progression--varying shades. but the addiction itself has always felt the same. the beginning is the middle is the end.

and so when i slip, it's like moving through a portal of time and space. and suddenly i'm nineteen and a first-year in school. and i'm twenty dealing with unbearable depression. and i'm twenty-one barely getting through the day and twenty-two finding out what it means to have the bottom fall out.

on normal days my body fogs over certain memories--protects me from myself. whole years fade away. but when in the grips of the eating disorder i am at the mercy of a memory all too potent and all too cutting. a memory that colors everything so clearly i can no longer distinguish between past and present. in fact, past becomes present as the preceding five years play out. all at once. inside a body struggling to know... well to know anything. just one thing. to know just one thing with certainty.

so for me, my adventure in utah proved more portal than anything else.

but the miraculous thing--the reason i wouldn't change any of it--the reason i'd do it all over agin--is: i rebounded. and quickly.

the rebound--the great gift of utah. the reason my gut pushed me to go.

my reaction time? hugely diminished. the space between the fright and the scream? nonexistent.

i've always been afraid of those moments of slipping--those moments where my partial recovery is more eating disorder than health. because i know that i tend to stay there for a while. it takes quite a bit of time to recover, to come out of the funk.

but this time. well this time i came out of it. and quickly.

and now i'm not so fearful of those hard days. because i have so much more information and knowledge and experience.

and the funny thing (the counter-intuitive thing) about experience is that, good or bad, it adds value to one's worth.

and suddenly my cross (crosses) don't seem so heavy.