Last night my husband made dinner.
“I don’t trust anything that isn’t packaged in plastic,” he joked.
Due to our heavy reliance on all things Trader Joe’s, salads, pizzas, wraps, pastas, you name it, are prepared and packaged. Every meal is quickly created by mixing, boiling or heating. Occasionally extra veggies are cut or a little cheese is shredded, but the salad dressing is in the package, the sauce to be added (not created) might be from another container. Sometimes we slice some bread. I’ve often thought we’d starve were it not for TJs.
The meals are quick and good but my husband’s comment is disturbing. Our daughter’s response to the meal was, “When are we going to have real food!” (Her idea of “real” is Hot Pockets, the grocery store version of TJs. Which is again, disturbing.)
How did I get here? I was the organic recipe seeker, the baby food maker, the farmer’s market shopper. Now I can’t be bothered to make coffee, let alone grind it from fresh organic, free market beans. No, I pop in the k-cup of Peat’s high-octane blend as I fly out the door, feeling good about the fact that I didn’t stop for coffee at the local Starbucks. Good about saving time and a little money. But annoyed by the fact I had to add water to the machine.
Not too long ago I would regularly cook a meal, with ingredients that were chosen, cut, sautéed, broiled, or baked by me. Leftovers existed. The quick meal was on Friday, when we were all out of “real food.” Real food seems to be something I plan to do. Just not right now. You see, I’m late. I’m hungry. I got to go. I don’t have time.
But time has always been scarce. Even in the past when I cooked and shopped for my family. The change is the family. As they went off to their own lives, the need to make a real food diminished. The few that remain were often off doing, and getting home late. Meal time became a solitary venture. The lack of others diminished food’s importance. Full disclosure, I’m not a foodie. Left to my own devices, I’d gladly eat Triscuits and cheese for dinner. Until I get thirsty and then I’d have some seltzer water.
The trouble with this is not just the lack of environmental friendliness, increased cost and high salt intake. It’s the isolation, the lack of human interaction, discussion, and connection. Being alone can be a nice break for an overburdened parent, but too much of it is just not healthy.
Luckily, in just a few weeks, the holidays will bring family home. Whether out of guilt or habit, they come back and with them come routines, rhythms, and expectations. Some of it is strange stuff: sibling to sibling and child to parent interactions that are struggling towards adulthood. But with it comes good things, real food and discussion.
I’m still moving from what was to what could be. I’m just a bit lost in transition. I wonder (my one little word for 2014) what might move me towards this after the holidays pass.
Thanks to Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Stacey and Tara for Slice of Life Tuesdays at Two Writing Teacher blog. A wonderful place to share our thoughts and writing. Read more slices here.