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We learn so many lessons in high school, most of them terrible.

I carry Hunter’s words in my head like a medal or a trophy.

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I still hated my body, but by high school societal standards (you know, basically like regular societal standards but with a scoop of youthful cruelty to give it that zing) I was moving in the right direction.

I got more popular, and by the time senior year rolled around I found myself getting laid during the school year — almost as much as during the summer.

Now my mom lived with her son but without her husband, who had to stay in the city because “there aren't enough jobs out here,” which I found strange because there seemed to be plenty of jobs and “no jobs” didn't explain why Ma cried most nights and why her ma, my grandma, looked at me like I was the garbage someone forgot to take out.

I’d sneak bowls of cereal when no one was home, pouring sugar and honey on the off-brand Cheerios pretending they were the Honey Nut kind, the kind my other grandma — who lived near the ocean and never looked at me like I was trash — always fed me.

When I dragged giant garbage bags of half-eaten hamburgers to the large metal bins behind the building, I’d take breaks to smoke damp Newports alone.

Most of the waitresses were older than my mother, sneaking food home to their kids and husbands, but a few of them were my age, working for the summer.

“If you weren't getting so fat, I wouldn't have to buy you new clothes,” she says. Or the Chef Boyardee for dinner most nights, or the pasta and butter with a side of bread on the others.

Ma had been bigger too, when she was younger, and she wanted so badly to save me from the same fate.

Though I'd been drinking and doing drugs since I was 12, to me parties meant slamming beers alone in the woods, or slamming beers with my male friends in the woods until we became brave or stupid enough to fight each other.

We’d pair off, throwing fists into each other’s faces until blood burst from our noses, lips, and once, only once, this guy Mike's eye. A varsity hockey player, Hunter was infamous for hooking up with all of the most attractive girls at school.

But right up until that moment I'd been all the terrible euphemisms that were so much worse than simply being called fat: "husky," “chunky,” “portly,” "big-boned," “plump.” Words ingrained in my fabric.