Story of My Life, Ginger Glazed
On my birthday, by the light of a candle that stood knee-deep and proud in a slab of peanut-butter-chocolate confection, I said to Jules,
“Wow. So 35. That’s, like, halfway to 40.”
He then reminded me that 35 is halfway to 70.
(1) CURSE ENGINEERS AND THEIR LIGHTNING-QUICK MENTAL MATH. You know what I meant, right? 35 is halfway between 30 and 40!
(2) Last week I dreamed of a book* on a pedestal in a bright white room. I peered inside the book, gasped, smiled, and slammed it shut. Then I ran, but I had a feeling I would be back.
(3) Despite considerable thought devoted to the subject, I still wonder if, despite my 35 years of Earth experience, I am responsible enough to create suitable living conditions for more than a Welsh corgi. I am relieved that I am not the only person who feels this way.
(4) I remind myself that thinking other people have their acts together is a trap. I feel like someone needs to reinforce this concept for me on a daily basis. Maybe in the form of a smartphone app featuring Admiral Ackbar?
The candle smoke hung thick in the air, in the dark. It curled toward my forehead, then dissipated.
Otherwise the day passed much like any other.
In September, during summer’s last gasp, a writer friend invited Jules and me to eat dinner in total darkness at the Seattle Blind Café.
We met in a candlelit foyer at Nalanda West—a place where, about a year earlier, I’d quit a basic meditation class because my feet kept falling asleep and I because I could not stop thinking about meditating while meditating. I was thus ever more determined to be UBER PRESENT AND MINDFUL during dinner. I directed my focus to sliding a plump strawberry off a fruit skewer without dropping it on the floor. Someone explained the timeline for the evening. There would be dinner, music, and stories from the blind individuals helping run the event.
We diners lined up single file, right hand on right shoulder of the person ahead, in a sort of Conga Line Into The Void.
The dining room was legit dark. Every window and door crevice had been blocked, every electronic device dutifully tucked away. One of the blind volunteers who led us into the room took my hand and set it on the back of a chair. “You’ll be sitting here,” he said. Later he told us his process for navigating a new city by bus every few weeks. Remarkable.
My hands were instantly all thumbs. I extended them in front of me. I discovered that the staff had taken pity on us and put our water in plastic bottles. There was a bread basket to be passed, olive oil dipping to be navigated, conversations to be started with the disembodied voices an arm’s length away.
At this point I would love to be able to say that the darkness increased my senses of taste and smell. But really, it just made me nervous. On the upside, no one knew how much bread I was taking from the basket, so I was able to soothe myself with more carbs than would ever have been socially acceptable in the light.
The food was vegan small bites.** Save for dessert, it had all been plated before we sat down. Some people started eating with their hands, licking avocado mousse from their fingers. This made me more nervous. More bread. More bread.
“Oh, there’s a fork at the top of the plate!” came the voice of Disembodied Jules.
Thank heavens, I thought. I grabbed the utensil, and yet I still couldn’t navigate my meal. I could barely get my food from plate to mouth. Everyone else seemed to have mastered this, and everyone else had moved on to discussing flavors and textures. Did you try the Brussels sprouts? That avocado mousse has a kick to it. And that ginger glaze on the carrots!***
Approximately 40 minutes later, I located the carrots. I attempted to spear one. A switch flipped in my brain.
“THIS IS A SPOON,” I said to Disembodied Jules.
“Yes,” he replied.
“YOU SAID IT WAS A FORK.”
“I know,” he said. “But it’s a spoon. Couldn’t you tell from the feel of it?”
In the end, it was not the dinner, but the music, that got me. The weirdest tears ever somehow dribbled up and out, against gravity, from a brand new part of my gut. I should have collected them in my water bottle and labeled it This This This, Remember This.
Then someone lit a candle. My eyes adjusted. And the room was ten times bigger than I thought it would be.
*It may or may not have been this book, which simultaneously delighted and terrified me as a child.
** Quite small bites. If you go, eat a snack beforehand, so you can focus on the experience sans rumbly belly.
*** Turned out that the chef who prepared said carrots was sitting across from Jules the entire time. Later we found out that his day job is cooking vegan, organic meals for a preschool.****
**** VEGAN ORGANIC PRESCHOOL. Is this amazing, or is it as annoying as the babyccino? Discuss.
The Blind Café runs in several cities and returns to Seattle from February 11-13.