...elevated. I felt it as I opened the door. My usual 80/40 raised to at least a normal person's pulse. Once, an acquaintance who was taking an EMT certification class wanted practice taking blood pressure; he took mine and said, "If we picked you up in the ambulance, we'd think you were on your way out." Well. How encouraging.
The knocker of the door was my neighbor. Since I moved in 6 months ago, she has been saying that they want to have me over for dinner -- she and her husband, and baby, and dog. I hoped that they'd forget; that, it was just one of those nice things people say. An intent incomplete. In this instance, not following through would have been a virtue in my eyes.
I take a deep breath, gutting myself...
...and as I describe my dis-ease my right hand moves over my insecure intestines, a subconscious shield protecting my body from my words, undressing layers of clothing and muscle and fat and flesh. I have grown accustomed to this part, to this stripping of my healthy robes, revealing the ratty cotton garments underneath.
Dining is difficult, and eating somehow less appetizing when my gastrointestinal workings must first be explained. There is just something about diarrhea and headaches and cramping and gluten eating holes through my intestinal walls that makes people lose their appetite. And, rightly so. I used to explain it kind of like an allergy. But it's not. Celiac is a disease, and a nasty one at that. A "reaction" just doesn't describe it. I was just telling someone (much to his surprise, I think) that I am always thinking about poop...always thinking about digestion and elimination. Always analyzing "how did that set?" in hopes of someday figuring out the mystery.
I'm a scientist examining scat.
See, I told you this would make you lose your appetite.
Tonight was the night...the night the intent completed. And, sitting here a few hours later, the verdict is (yes, a drum-roll would be very appropriate at this moment): I feel fine. But that is the rub of it, you see -- with celiac, there is always that moment of truth. There is always that split-second before you bite when you wonder: was the pan really scoured and spotless?; was there a crumb on the counter when the potatoes were wrapped in foil?; has this knife been use on toast the morning before and the knife on spaghetti at lunch? -- few people's standards of a "clean" dish match that of a celiac's.
The package may say "gluten free" but the preparation has no such guarantee. And yes, a crumb has made me sick before...yes, a crumb...
I've started viewing this new land of Eating Outside My Home as "eating adventurously." It helps. In my mind I'm the spitting image of Indiana Jones...I swear this is true, that I see myself in dirty khaki garb, a brown fedora, and sometimes I even carry a whip. I have a vivid and childish imagination and I know how to use it.
Plus, I've always had a thing for Indiana Jones.
6:45 p.m. and down my snowy driveway I trudged with a bottle of wine in one hand and a glass bowled beet salad in the other. True to my anti-domestic obsession and rantings of late, I realized that I didn't have any salad serving utensils. I didn't just realize that I didn't have any with me, but that I didn't even own any. This made me feel good. I don't think Indiana Jones would have serving spoons either.
Baked potatoes, tomato soup, and a beet salad. It was adventurous. I held my breath before I bit. I even held a baby. And, I didn't lose my hat. Indiana Jones never loses his hat...
~ Roasted golden beets, fennel & tarragon, baby romaine lettuce, balsamic vinegar & olive oil. ~