In the Harsh Climate of Wyoming, I Learned to Listen to My Body
My eating disorder dictated my relationship to food. Then I moved to Wyoming, whose unforgiving landscape reminded me: We eat food to survive.
Stay behind in Austin where you belongI’m trying to start over. Stay in the heat, with the tech startups and the awful, congested traffic. Stay behind and let me live.
Brokeback MountainBrokeback Mountain
Once you think you’re getting used to the cold, there’s the altitude. At 7,200 feet, Laramie is considered relatively high altitude. High altitude lowers your appetite and makes you sleepy and dehydrated. You can never breathe quite enough, because you’re always two breaths behind.
I’ll go on a hike I’ll go on a five-hour hike and I won’t eat at all to make up for this.
Go to bed and don’t even think about dinner.
You can existBut only barely. And on my terms, not yours
Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer from Austin. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Wyoming, is a 2016 VONA/Voices alumna, and a participant of the 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Apogee, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Passages North, wildness, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Rumpus, with essays in Huffington Post, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. She is a prose editor for The Adroit Journal and is working on a novel. Find her at jennytinghui.com
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When I came to Laramie, I found the person I wanted to be. When I left, I took her with me.
There are cowboys out there who echo the conquering-the-west narrative, one of entitlement and legacy and what he is owed.
I take off the effects of the day, the echoes of wind, sleet, and snow. I pamper my skin, urge it to replenish and heal. I am asking myself to brave another day.
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I learned that kind of hard-won glamour; that we should have beauty, however much the world wants to keep it from us.