Thursday, July 20, 2006


Living in France, I learned that many cheeses taste better at room temperature – the flavor unlocked. Never again have I eaten refrigerated brie. Ah, liberation!

Today, however, in Southern California with only a neighborhood grocery store (the ghetto store) in walking distance, with a fidgety 4 month old squirming on the floor who should be napping, there will be no jaunting to the French market for cheese. Piling a fat, heavy baby in the car one more time and piling him out at the grocery store, shopping, and repiling and unloading is all too much to ask for cheese.

Instead, I have settled for packaged, pre-sliced, lowfat Swiss, sandwiched between pieces of ham (because I also have no bread). While preparing my less-than-gourmet lunch, I discover that it only takes 5 seconds in the microwave to soften a thick slice of Swiss cheese just enough to bring out the flavor and take off the refrigerated edge. 5 seconds and hard, cold cheese is transformed. Why, I asked myself, can I not soften up so quickly?

I am notorious for taking a small thought 0 to 60 in 2 seconds – suddenly my husband, 15 minutes late, is in a fatal car accident on the highway; my best friend, delayed in returning my call, has discovered me and cut me from her life; a creak in the hall and a mass murderer has crept into the second floor of the house ETC. It is exhausting, really.

Today it is my mother. We are damaged and distanced and not talking. (Not talking for us, I should add, is counted in hours or days, not years). Today our lack of connection -- for that is the problem, many words and little depth – weighs heavily, and I am sure there are deep seated mother-to-child patterns that I will inevitably duplicate with my own children and that the best solution is to excommunicate myself from her.

When I run this by Todd, my teacher friend, he tells me our biggest job in life is “to do the thing” – whatever that thing may be. That doing is where there is Spirit in our lives. That doing equals living. And I know that especially when you live as I do, always on the brink of some violent end or mass abandonment, he is right – there are only two choices: fear and embrace -- and embracing is doing the thing.

So here in the corner of my living room, baby on the floor, tea with lemon at hand, a pounding headache and far too little sleep, I decide I will “do,” and take my heart out of the refrigerator. Putting it in the microwave seems a bit rash, violent even,, so the counter will have to do. And then I will wait. Sometimes this is all we can do – take the first small step and watch the cold edge soften and hope the flavor will rise.

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