Today I sing of garlic and earrings. Wait, don’t change the station. It’s also a song of remembering who I was before I met Tony, and figuring out who I am and will be now that he is gone.
Before Tony and I met, I cooked with onions and garlic in everything. Or shallots. Or chives. I loved oniony, garlicky flavors. After I met him, after things got serious and we were eating all of our meals together, I stopped cooking with those ingredients. I stopped even buying them. Why? Because when Tony was a teenager and even into adulthood, he had acne. It was pretty excruciating for him as a teenager, and even though I always thought his skin looked good (and he looked years younger than his age) he was hyper-sensitive to the presence of any tiny whitehead, any redness, anything other than smooth perfection.
He wanted so much to be able to control that, to stop any breakout from happening. I would tell him that I still got breakouts sometimes, but that didn’t help. So what started in his teenager years as experiments with dietary supplements and facial cleansers turned into an almost monk-like exercise in self-denial. He wouldn’t eat anything with onions or garlic because he was convinced that their sulfur and sugar content were part of the problem. But it wasn’t just that. It was any sugar, any dairy, any meat with visible fat. Any citrus, any fruit, many vegetables.
The bottom line is, we ate a very limited diet. Sure, I could have cooked two separate meals but that seemed like a lot of work on top of my day job and writing. So I ate what he ate.
The other day I bought garlic scapes at the farmers’ market. They’re sort of garlic shoots, immature garlic if you will. To eat them, you just need to cut up the greens and cook them. I had some with mushrooms (another thing Tony wouldn’t eat) and eggs (yet another) on Sunday. They were delicious.
Enjoying garlic doesn’t mean I don’t miss Tony. It just means that I am re-learning what it means to be me, Aimee, without him. I put his needs and wants above my own most of the time, because on some level I thought that would save him. Now I can only save myself.
And earrings. Well, I’m not wearing garlic bulbs or scapes as earrings to ward off attacks of the vampiric (vampirous?) variety. What I am doing is making earrings, something I have never done before. I took a class with my mother on Tuesday night because I have learned, in this new life I am building, that I love jewelry. I never really wore it before – just my wedding ring, occasionally a necklace or earrings, but truly only rarely. Now, it’s become a passion. I love to wear it, and I thought it would be interesting to learn how to make them. Here are my first two efforts:
My loops are a little wonky, but I’m guessing those will improve with practice. I never thought of myself as artistic in that way, but I am done setting limits for myself. My sweet Tony thought that by making his world smaller and smaller he could protect himself. So he denied himself things he liked, he limited himself, and he hid himself away. I hid with him and tried to convince him that it was safe to open up, but he couldn’t believe me.
In the end, there is no safety in limitations of that kind. There is no way to hide from life. All we can do is fling the doors wide, and fling our arms wide, take what the world offers and offer back the best of ourselves. Blemishes and fears and all.