...in the pathless woods." ~ Lord Byron
And there is pleasure indeed to finding my path home again, after a day spent bushwhacking through the thickets of my mind, to these words. A package from home, consisting of Fat and Love individually wrapped, waiting...
I realize that I am the unique woman who is actually trying to gain weight, and that most women's mothers do not send them Please Gain Weight boxes; but, is it not always a Mama's place to fatten her young? From before birth, we live off our mother's fat, in which is stored the energy to conceive and to grow. Instinctively then, even once we leave this viscera of nutrients, her womb yet yearns to envelop her young with good things...sustenance for their Journey, for their Pathless Woods.
My day's journey began with a jolting realization, perhaps more aptly, a remembering; for, I have always known it. I stood at the bus-stop, my naked toes wiggling cold in flip-flops prepared for the afternoon to come, not morning mountain air, as my bus-stop friend pulled up. This man has impeccable timing. He parks, the bus comes, he runs like hell to get on. That is the pattern of morning events. Beating the bus by a few minutes this morning, he looked at me "You look worn, are you ok?" He genuinely seemed concerned. I wasn't feeling really all that bad. No worse than normal. No more tired. I was my "normal" self --- my face and stomach itchily dry.
But a juxtaposition hit me...only a few days ago, I met up with a friend with Celiac, who I hadn't seen in a few years, to pick up a video he recommended; and, upon seeing me he said, "You look well! Healthy, even...your eyes have Light." The difference here being that this man knows Inside. He has experienced the drain of invisible wars, their rage very real, that are unseen to other's eyes. He knows, and he was impressed with the life I do have.
My body is older than 25 years. Celiac disease is traditionally known as a wasting disease...and some days, I do feel wasted.
But, from my bus-friend's vantage, I should be brimming with life and joy in the single and irresponsible life he imposes upon my frame, as morning after morning he relays his frustrations with wife, kids and house. These, his "chronic problems," seen through cultural avenues we most all will and at some point do experience. He can't see though, the lingering shadow of a ring on my finger or the holes gluten has eaten out inside.
And yet, I thought, what are his unseen thorns? We all have them...
Now, to Food.
"I'm in," was all I got in response. It was my sister's texted reply to my afternoon question: "Sardines?"
They have been a goal of mine for many months now. I was working my way up. First, eating meat again -- light fish, then tuna, salmon, and last week herring. Eventually, I'd get to Sardines.
A little tin of Crown Prince Sardines has been taunting me, as if Alice's own Wonderland had written "Eat Me" on the packaging, and I worried that they would do Something Strange. I just couldn't bring myself to pull the tab and burst the seal. Not yet. Not until tonight.
I remembered Sardines. These were not used as punishment in mathematical tutoring, but are cognitively classified forever as Man Food. I can't recall ever seeing a woman eat sardines. They, along with pickled herring, limburger cheese, and braunschweiger, were foods eaten by Grandpas. And, they only appeared when Grandma's gave permission on "special occasions"; namely, Christmas and New Years. Their slimy little bodies (heads and tails intact), would be placed along with a slice of putrid cheese, and pressed into a sandwich...slowly eaten and savored...before an array of grandchildren covering their eyes and plugging their noses. I never knew if the Grandpas really enjoyed the food, or just grossing out the grandchildren. I suspect both.
But, after reading two articles recently; one, asserting sardines as one of the 11 best foods I am supposedly not eating; and the other as the #1 food I should eat, my sister and I made a pact: we would conquer this food together. And, so came her reply, "I'm in."
I took a breath and pulled the tab, waiting for my olfactory passages to revolt and revert to a childish "ewwwww"! I peeked into the Shadows of the Tin, expecting to be greeted by beady eyes in scaled heads.
But, I wasn't.
Three fillets rested contentedly in olive oil; and now, in my belly...
- "Eat Me" Salad -
Meyer lemon juice
Freshly cracked mixed peppercorns