I like food. I was really blessed that my first fianceé, Max, forced me to pay attention to it. Here I was in his apartment, scarfing down food like a wildebeest before him, and he yelled- “Stop!”
I froze mid-bite, staring at him wide-eyed.
Stop and taste it, he instructed me. Slow down and let the taste fall on my tongue, on the the front, on the sides. Savor the meal, take it in, enjoy it for all it is. Close your eyes and try it again. Be with the meal, be here with me, be here. Otherwise, it feels to me like you have somewhere better to be.
I did. And to this day, I am grateful.
Food is an important part of my lexicon of experiencing life. A cabinet full of unusual spices, that I know how to use, is a metaphor for my experience living life as a person with many tools in my bat belt. I have many spices in my cabinet. I know how to not only use them in stir fry, but in baking, in open flame cooking… I am decent at making a variety of things, and others I am downright excellent at. I have had friends fight over my Tom Ka Gai soup.
But sometimes I get cravings. I recently have been eating a lot of yogurt and kashi. Every day, yogurt and kashi. I also have periods where certain foods just aren’t on my palate. Recently I just have not been eating a lot of meat for example. I have not gone vegetarian, it just hasn’t come up. Its not that I don’t like meat, and if its on the menu at a restaurant I might order some, and have my tongue be delighted for it. But its just not my day to day right now.
The fact that I currently have a lot of yogurt does not mean that it is the yogurt that has come between me and meat. Just because I am not eating as much meat does not mean I have more space in my belly for yogurt. The two just happen to be food, and happen to be food-related experiences in my life right now.
So it is for me with love.
I recently have been spending a lot of energy immersed in the love of my Boy, Aiden. Every day, Aiden. That does not mean that I do not still love, cherish, adore, appreciate or find myself deeply sexually and emotionally attracted to other people in my life.
The fact that I currently have a lot of love for Aiden does not mean that it is that love for Aiden that has come between me and other things that delight and tantalize me. Just because I am not spending as much time with those individuals does not mean I love them less, nor does not mean I have more space in my heart for Aiden.
Love is not a numbers game. I do not have twenty points to spend a day, with the fear being that if I love Aiden worth of 12 points, there is less room left for you. It does not work that way. I honestly and sincerely believe that love is not about a single point pool for all people to have to pull from.
Nor do I believe that I can say I love Aiden a 9, and my friend and love in England, Ian, a 5. That is madness. I love Aiden as yogurt with kashi, and Ian as tekka maki. I cherish Janice as gummy bears, Warren as lamb tika, Dmitri as tiramisu, Sooj as a salad of doom. Together they are a feast, and yes, some go better classically together than others. But my adoration of gummy bears does not mean I adore fried chicken any less. My relationship to tiramisu is independent of any scale I may have for feta cheese.
When I try to compare these things, I set them up as competitors for resources, set myself up to having to choose. Yes, my budget (financial, energetic, and space in my belly) may affect choices I make. If I am at the grocery store and my budget is tight, I may only have space for some things over others. I only have so much time in a day to be fed, no matter how amazing it is.
But for myself, as someone who deeply believes that love is not a finite quantity, and loving one does not mean I can not love others, I am aware that for my personal health, physical, energetic and emotional, I need all of it. I need the variety. As much as I adore lamb tika, if it was all I had, I would not be fueled for my greatness in the world. I am best served in this world with yogurt and kashi, spinach salads, a variety of dinner foods, home made salsa, surprise desserts, random gastronomical adventures about town and cooking at home alike. As a culinary spirit, I have my daily delights, and my exploits around the world.
Give me the flavors of love. Give me variety. Let me come back to those that sustain and delight me fully, and remember the one time I ate spicy pickled beef tripe in Xi’an, China, with a smile on my face. I loved that meal, but I do not expect it to grace my lips again. And so it is with love. That I can love profound and true for one night, one afternoon, one month, one year, one life, one soul to soul contact burning through time and space. They are not greater or lesser than other loves. Golden eyed David and the night of thunderstorms was no more real a love than 7 years building a life with Adam, my red earth man. They are not greater or lesser. They are not a 4 and a 7. I am not called to choose.
They just are.
And I sit with each love. I sit with it, close my eyes, and taste it with the whole of my tongue. The front of my tongue, the sides. I savor. I take it in. I absorb the fullness of it.
Because I have a spice cabinet full of possibility, and this meal, today, this love today, will never be the same again. Tomorrow, even the same meal, will not be identical. This love, will never be identical ever again.
Today is unique. Savor it.