The proof of my changed life is in the salad dressing. It’s the same Thousand Island Lite I’ve been dropping in a single, neat tablespoonful onto a bed of romaine for over a year now. It’s the bottled mayonnaise product that my husband wouldn’t dream of eating, not after growing up on oil and vinegar that falls fresh from two glass containers into the same salad bowl, repellant for the first time.
It’s the dressing that I glanced at last night, only to realize it had expired in September 2006. Before my daughter was born, a year was a very long time. Food that was old, seemed old. The digital reading on the bottom right hand corner of my office computer went so slowly from 9:06 to 9:07 that it seemed not to change at all. One season of the Sopranos was separated from the next by eternity. The idea of shopping July sales for gifts to give at Christmas was absurd.
At least I knew I wouldn’t live forever, even then. But I didn’t care. The fifty years that separated me from my average-life-expectancy were a comfortable buffer. I was safe.
Last night, as that lettuce leaf of invisible mold sat surprisingly tasty on my tongue, I realized that this never would’ve happened in my old life. The bottle would’ve been tossed, 1/3 full, into the garbage can the day August flapped open to September. Back then there was organization, inasmuch as I could ever be considered organized. There was waste, for sure. And there was boredom, as I stared into that cold cubicle of perishables, tossing out a few old yogurts and rummaging behind the pickles, looking for something fun to eat.
The birth of my daughter has affected forever my clock and my calendar. She has shown me the true nature of time. I am fearful and inspired all at once.
My belief is simple. If I eat some mold because I am too busy enjoying my dinner company to stop and check the expiration date, so be it. It’s penicillin for the soul.
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