Soup and puree (soup and puree),
Don’t get left behind (get left behind)…
-Paul McCartney, Monkberry Moon Delight
It is a weird time of scarcity and abundance. It is a transitional time.
It is one of those weird points in my life when I suddenly observe I have run out of condiments. Gone are the chutneys and mustards. The pancake syrup is empty. The honey is gone and the agave is a distant memory. That Newman’s Own Light Honey Dijon salad dressing with which I have a borderline obsession was finished off last week, and the Heinz squeeze-bottle of ketchup spluttered dry last night.
Running out of packaged sauces seems like a failure, or a failing, which is the theme of late.
Condiments are those weird sorts of home goods that you think you’ll never finish. Which is weird, but true. You never think you’re going to need Worcestershire sauce, until you need it (unless you drink a lot of bloody marys, I guess).
I live alone. I almost never run out of condiments. In my house, things are much more likely to expire than get used up. In fact, over the weekend, I tossed out a bottle of malt vinegar that had expired in 2010. It had never occurred to me that vinegar might turn, but it smelled funny and had gone cloudy. (Consider that — vinegar smelling funny!)
And so, living alone amongst an abundance of side-sauces, and suddenly, a scarcity of the same, seems a failure — both the fact of having them, and then not.
More fundamentally, why do I feel like a failure?
I feel like a failure because the dog got sick in the night — he’d snarfled crumbs out of a shag rug and consumed strips of the rug itself — and in the interest of my sleep, and sanity, I’d comforted him; made sure he was okay; but never cleaned up the vomit. And he was restless, still, at daybreak, so I pulled him up on to the bed (and how many times have my parent-of-small-child friends warned me against doing that same thing?!); left him there snoozing when I got into the shower, then had to run out from under the steamy stream, dripping with suds, when I heard him retch all over my duvet halfway through my shower.
I feel like a failure because there are still dog vomit stains on my rug, and all I’ve done is toss the duvet in the hamper. I know I have some Resolve…somewhere.
I feel like a failure because I’ve all I’ve done is cram the duvet in the hamper but I realised I haven’t done laundry since Christmas; because I feel like an idiot that I have so many pairs of underwear that I can actually make it this long without doing laundry; that I keep spending money on clothes I don’t need. Furthermore, I feel like an idiot because my sweaters pill and my tights run and I would like to look perfect all the time, but reality sets in and I don’t.
I’m not perfect.
I am awash in dog vomit and dirty laundry, and completely empty of condiments.
What a day.
Does everyone feel this way — defeated by the mundane? Brought to their knees by canines and ketchup?
Maybe not. But today, I feel this way.
When things were really shitty when I was in college or law school, I’d talk to my grandfather — to Bop — to my mother’s father. I keep a picture of him, and me, and Chachie (Chachie being my lifelong stuffed monkey companion) above my desk, so that when I write, I remember.
My grandparents lived just outside Philadelphia for most of my life, but had moved down to Florida in the ’90s — outside of Orlando. When they’d call, 352 was the area code that would show up on Caller ID — because even when we were impoverished law students, we’d pay for Caller ID, which was a Thing That You’d Pay For back then. Back when land lines were a thing people had, and it was how I always knew to pick up for Bop.
(NB: I am a notorious call-screener, and yes, I still have a land line.)
And then the other day, either I was calling Paul, or Paul was calling me and it occurred to me that 352 is the country code for Ireland, and that’s the identifier: 352.
It’s silly, isn’t it? But I suppose what I am saying is that I am always looking for symbols and signs that make things familiar; that remind me that things are going to be okay.
The duvet will be sent to the laundry; the rugs will be cleaned up. I ordered ketchup and syrup and chutney and mustard and agave and even that amazing Newman’s Own Light Honey Dijon salad dressing that I love so much from Fresh Direct, and it will come this week.
The things that seem like signs of such grave failure will fade in time. There will be less dog vomit. There will be more ketchup.
I will catch up. Eventually.