Hello everyone! I have just returned from a fantastic trip to the North Woods. I have stories, meditations, and recipes galore just waiting to be slammed into post after post. While I wrap my mind around the blogging material I have come home with and try to wrestle it into compact and coherent little bites, I present you with this small foray into my past and my twisted little 7-year-old brain. Because I know everyone’s interested in all the little quirks and squiggledy-diggledies that were zipping around in my grey matter 20 years ago. Um, right?
I’ve already talked about how I’m a huge delayed gratification girl. I’d like to delve into the roots of this problem as part of my ongoing blog-therapy. One of the astounding examples of this behavior in my youth was the candy collection I kept in my room.
When I was 7, we lived in Madrid. In school, when a kid’s birthday rolled around it was customary for him/her to bring a brimming bag of candy for each classmate. Given the number of kids in my 2nd grade class, there was candy flowing all year long, baby. My parents had never really bought us candy. In fact, we weren’t even allowed to eat any candy until we were school age (with minor exceptions, one photographed below), so this was a big treat for me–so big that I couldn’t bear the thought of just eating the candy outright, because then it would be gone. So I saved it. I had a blue tray and a pink tray that stacked on top of each other, and distributed all my candy between the two. As the year progressed, my stash of candy got bigger and bigger. And this is the crux of the story: I never ate a single piece. I’m sure my dentist was thankful that this psychological aberration played to his advantage, but what does it say about the kind of person that I am??
At some point in the future, it all had to be thrown away—the marshmallows (‘jamones’) had become leathery, shriveled pink things; the chips were stale, the hard candies had melted and become one with their cellophane wrappings, etc.
Years later, it was brought to my attention that 2 certain young girls had been stealing from my stash all along. If I had discovered them back in the day, I don’t know what kind of hellfire I would have raised, but now that I am a more well-seasoned individual, I can say I’m just glad that it didn’t all go to waste. Plus, look at how cute they were, the little offenders.
In fact, searching for evidence to explain the obsessive saving habits I engaged in, I came across this picture that illustrates it perfectly. Heidi is in the forefront, having already gulped down half her candy. In fact, she is in mid-chew. Erica is proudly displaying the big bite she took out of her candy . . .
. . . and I’m in the background, carefully holding the candy between my teeth without taking a bite. As soon as that picture was taken, you’d better believe I whisked that chocolate out of my mouth and put it in my sock drawer for perpetuity. In fact, I should check my sock-drawer for its fossil–the Field Museum might be interested. And donations to museums are tax-deductible, right?
Now I’m trying to undo years and years of hard-wired patterns so that I can enjoy things as they come. If I had just learned this lesson 20 years ago, I can’t imagine how different my life would have been. Like, for one thing, my teeth would have rotted out of my head, which in turn would have caused my wedding pictures to really suck since I would only have black tooth-stumps lining my grin. And I would have been too hyped on sugar to do my homework, so I would have failed out of school, losing the opportunity to move on to 3rd grade. But I sense we’re getting off track. The gist of the matter is: what good is that pretty dress if I’m saving it for a special occasion that never arrives? What good is that bag of frozen shrimp if I’m saving it for a special dinner party that doesn’t happen? Wear the pretty dress! Eat the shrimp! Mark my words: life itself is the special occasion. Every day is a gift that we should be grateful for. Enjoy it now! Don’t let your marshmallows go stale.*
*This is in no way an endorsement of a lack of self-discipline of self-control. Side effects can include but are not limited to: wearing too many pretty dresses, eating untold quantities of shrimp, and overdosing on sugary products. If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your local psychologist, physician, and/or pastor.