Foods I Try Not to Eat

What do you eat, when you’re drying the dishes, and dinner is done, but YOU don’t feel quite done?

If you say another hard boiled egg, and maybe some kale chips, I think I’ll send your character out for more toilet paper, and forget to have her come back.

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Back to Ben plus Jerry. Which flavor would you choose? There are so many. Wouldn’t that be a fun job — naming the different kinds of ice cream? I would choose Mint Chocolate Cookie, only I try hard not to pick that one anymore. Because Mint Chocolate Cookie tastes like my first love, more than anything else. It tastes like shared spoons and ice-cold hands and wonderfully warm limbs, all tangled up. One bite, and that’s all there is.

I remember him in a cranberry turkey sandwich, too — the best one I’ve had. And in a side salad that was very hard to eat neatly, on the first date out with his parents, and in the four or five croutons he dropped into his lap, to help me relax. I remember him in lyrics I liked and in little notes I left under his windshield wipers — almost every day, for years. I remember him in dreams we had, in mistakes we made, in places we went.

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I remember him in a slightly smushed slice of ricotta cheesecake, which he had schlepped all the way back from home, just so I could try it. It was fabulous — we ate it straight from the Tupperware, lying on my rug. I remember him in forgotten forks, in tables I helped his mother set, and in here baby, try this. I remember him in a shared twin bed, on jersey-soft sheets, feeling sleepy and full and oh-so-safe. I remember my face buried into the crook of his neck, and my favorite smell in the entire world. Home away from home. Even now, he’s practically everywhere I go.

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I remember him in anything Oreo, because once upon a time he really loved those. I remember him in very nice steak, with a compound butter we didn’t really think too much about, because we were out and we were young and we were holding hands across the table. I remember him in homemade pancakes, whisked together in a flimsy red bowl. He made them for me the first time he brought me home — before I became too much of a monster to eat anything fun.

I remember him in chocolate-covered raisins — also before I became un-fun. We liked to sneak them into the movie theater, and eat them between kisses in the back row. I remember him in garlic knots, still warm from the oven, although even that is harder now. Mostly I remember driving home from college for the last time, and feeling like I’d left something very important behind.

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I remember thinking that it hurt too much to ever want to do it again. And that there probably wouldn’t be a maybe someday. (Let’s pause and remind ourselves of this, shall we?)

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And then I remember the guy after: in airplane peanuts, in too-short weeks, in Boeuf Bourguignon, in oceans apart. In perfect little places, in recipes written down, in amazing markets, in better bread.

I remember him in merci, mon coeur. I remember him in sizzling salmon and smashed garlic cloves and expertly chopped herbs. I remember him in endless rain and really relentless heat. I remember him in a tarte tatin that I will never, ever forget.

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I remember him in so many feelings, so shockingly fast. I remember him in perfect clarity, and then in complete confusion. I remember him in dishes his mother would never let me do and in cellar-saved wines we had.

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I remember him with so much affection, in so many cobblestoned streets. In white espresso cups, and in little European spoons. I remember him in sunflower fields and ancient castles. In a fairytale of a countryside that I will probably never see again.

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I remember him in cheese fondue and difficult goodbyes and passport stamps. I remember him in words I couldn’t pronounce and in quotes I simply loved. I remember him in thousands and thousands of emails — in stories shyly exchanged. I remember him in plates divided straight down the middle.

I remember him in training programs, and in all the other plans we made together, too. I remember him in multiple chocolate boxes, in laughing eyes, in dead sprints up a dirt road, in books read side by side. I remember him in so much change, weighing down my purse. I remember him in Speculoos cookies, all the way home.

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I remember him in I wish and if only. I remember him in seven course meals, in Lucky Charms and Pop-Tarts, in really rare meat, and in specialties I tried really hard to like.

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I remember him in everything new and foreign, and unfortunately, in everything really old too. I remember him when I think about how different my life could have been. And how sweet the promise of second love was, however fleeting. And how the fantasy broke, and how reality became all too real, and how it all just kind of floated away. Mostly I remember him in a language I’m starting to forget.

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