I had a roommate that ate the same thing every day. White rice with veggie medley (corn, peas and carrot squares). And chicken. He'd pull out a single serving rice cooker, cut open a bag of veggies and grab a frozen chicken breast. 15 minutes later, dinner was served. He didn't used a single condiment or spice. It never varied.
"I eat to live, not live to eat, Elyse," he chuckled, kicking up his cowboy boots and popping in a DVD.
It baffled me. I agonized over food. Fantasized about it. Couldn't get enough of it! Food was comfort and coping and entertainment. It was satisfying in every sense of the word.
I siphoned more mental energy into what I was going to eat at every meal than I would ever admit out loud. At breakfast, I started thinking about what I'd have for lunch. If we planned a dinner out, I reviewed my order every day in lead up, tweaking and adding, delighting in all the possibilities. I wrote extensive grocery lists and edited them regularly, designating every category with color-coded hearts.
One day me and the P.I.C. (partner in crime) walked to the grocery store. I needed chapstick and he wanted an iced tea. We picked out our items and he went to look at something else, so I cruised the frozen aisle, drooling over tots. I f-ing loved tots. I turned to see him finishing at the checkout and reluctantly went to meet him. As we walked out, my frustration started to boil.
"What's in the bag?" I poked. He widened the straps to reveal seven-layer dip and tortilla chips.
"I wanted tots!" I tantrum-ed.
"Well, why didn't you get them?"
"You ran up to the register without me!"
"Oh yeah, I 'ran' up to the register," he half-laughed, now getting frustrated.
"You did! You went and got this when I wasn't looking!"
"I wasn't hiding it! You just said you were going to take a nap so I got this to have while I watch my movie."
"That's not fair! You were going to eat all this delicious food while I sleep!" I was officially worked up.
"Oh my god. Do you want me to turn around and go get you tots?" We were halfway home by now and he was as annoyed as I was. I scrunched my face and huffed, wanting the tots, but wanting to prove some point by not getting them.
"I'm getting you your damn tots." He spun and reached the corner before I even thought to move. Not wanting to be left behind, I jogged after him. When I caught up, he hardened his face in effort not to laugh as I looked at him sideways with a sheepish smile. We burst out laughing.
When we reached the store for the second time, I footballed the tots and we found another line to avoid an awkward conversation with the clerk. Jimmy was still trying to act annoyed, but I kept making him laugh. On the way home he did imitations of me.
"You're, you're, you're gonna eat all that delicious food without me!" he stomped, making baby voice. We both knew, if he had yummy food, I wanted yummy food.
Through a million and two obsessive instances with anything edible, a delicious idea kept me coming back to that single serve rice cooker. What if my life was so exciting it filled me? I fucking loved food, no doubt. But what if it didn't have to be everything, just one thing. Sometimes celebration, or nourishment, fun or fuel. One of many delicious sensual experiences that tiled the mosaic of my dynamic, adventurous life.
I could live to live, and eating would be part of it. Except when it came to tots.