It is a bit odd that a conversation about eating establishments triggers a memory of my childhood. My first real salad was had after I joined the military. I was 18 years old when I had my first salad with all the pickings, not that small school salad deal they try to pass off as fresh and healthy. This was at the amazing chow hall at Sheppard AFB Texas when I was in training for my military job.
Childhood memories are mostly made up of bad or sad, hurtful or scary for me. Then there are those neutral memories that don’t necessarily spark any fear or joy, they are just there. We spend a lot of time thinking of food and hey why not because food is good and fuel for our bodies. Sometimes I over fuel and that is why I am chubby lol. Almost every evening Ash and I watch food shows or we talk while he cooks dinner. That is part of our routine, that is our now.
Growing up we didn’t have a lot and you can say we were poor. The bathroom we shared only had running water for the toilet and tub but not the sink, there was not any hot water either. We never had air conditioning from what I can remember and I can’t remember having a full pantry of food other than flour, lard and beans. Mexican staples I guess you can say. My exposure to different foods only came from meals provided at school and y’all know there isn’t a lot of variety there.
I remember going to different school for a variety of reasons, moved around from here and there. Sometimes I was with the mom or the dad, sometimes I wasn’t. There wasn’t much stability that I can remember. I think maybe going to school was my stability, not necessarily the people in my life. Exposure to different foods was not something that I was privy to.
Getting through school so I could leave was my end goal, at that point in my life I was just waiting to get out, finding a way to leave the personal hell I was living in. I made some friends in High School, a few I still keep in touch with through social media. All I wanted was to be finished with the place I was in and find a way to escape, to leave it all behind and start my life. Joining the military gave that escape to me. That provided some exposure to different foods and people.
Okay so back to food…hubby and I were talking about foods and I often ask him ‘have I ever had that food?’ because he will know. He has known me for most of my life and often feeds me lol.
So I got to thinking about how limited, even now, my exposure to foods and other things truly is. Sure I have traveled to various cities, states and even countries in my career. Tried so many of the foods in each country I visited. I remember when I was in Afghanistan being invited to a dinner at a French camp nearby, the foods were amazing. Even in the middle of a war zone, the food was beautiful and amazing. Who would have thought that? Being invited to a dinner with a French General on a small camp in Afghanistan.
This all brings me to the point of this post. Yes y’all there is a point to this rambling mess of words. In about a week I will be 45, have traveled the world while serving and visited almost every state in our great and amazing country. Yet, I am very limited in my exposure to some of the simplest of foods. That saddens me because even though I am living my life away from the place I wanted to leave, there is still a part of me that limited myself from trying new things. The fear, or the feeling of feeling inadequate with others. All of that because I was made to feel like nothing by the people who were suppose to love me.
I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer y’all. Have always felt a step behind everyone else. When I was serving I drowned myself in rules and regulations. All those Air Force Instructions and Department of Defense Regulations were my reading materials and I knew them all. Could have a question about anything work related and it would be easy to quote them word for word. My troops loved that about me, or so they have said lol but people who were trying to go around the system hated it.
Anyway….our conversation tonight about food made me think of the first ever real salad I had at a chain restaurant in Montgomery Alabama. It was then that I realized I was no longer that little broken child who had no idea what a real salad was. Sure there are times now that I have to ask Ash if I have ever had this kinda cheese or that kinda food, but I am learning that I may like something I have never tried before. That salad was moving, yeah it was good too but I had never had a REAL salad where I could choose any topping I wanted, even if I had never had it before. That right there people was HUGE for me.
I think about all the places we use to eat at, in all the cities and states we have visited as a family. Hoping that we have exposed our children to more than I was ever exposed to at their age.
Y’all I am going to be 45 soon and there is so much more I want to try, more I want to be able to expose myself to with my family. There is still part of me that is embarrassed by it, embarrassed that I still have no idea what certain things are. Sometimes I feel stupid because of it, I tell folks I am about as dumb as a box of rocks. Nothing is really holding me back from trying new things, nothing but that broken child inside who would rather stay in what we know.
Time for me and that child to find a way to break free of the mental chains around us. We are being held together in so many things. Today it is about food and how limited I feel.
Acknowledging these limitations or the fears both my inner child and I have will only help us, right? Kinda like bringing it into the light, so we can see it and work on it. Otherwise it will always be there holding us back. One day, we will both find a way to be better. Every time we bring forward a fear or something, it will begin the healing process. And it is a process y’all. It all takes time and work.
So a salad brought out these thoughts and feelings today, wonder what it will be next time.