Daddypotamus Bought Me A Cactus For My 21st Birthday
I named him Frank. Now, if you’re not immediately thinking what a total keeper he is, it’s only because you don’t know the story.
See, eight months earlier I’d fallen in love over the sneeze guard of a salad bar. Oh yes! An unfamiliar voice called my name, so I looked up and there – just past the iceberg lettuce - stood a smiling stranger with gorgeous blue eyes. And then I saw stars. Seriously, stars. Like the ones in cartoons when someone gets whacked with a frying pan.
Okay, he wasn’t a stranger, he was my fifth grade crush all grown up. The two foot height difference is what threw me for a loop (and of course those stars!). I’ll tell you this, though: All my agnosticism about “the one” evaporated that day. He was real, and he was standing 5 feet away in the Crowley Hall Cafeteria.
But, Uh, There Was A Glitch
My college nickname was Femi-Nazi. It’s not pretty – university kids are not known for their tact – but it was basically accurate. After my dad died I determined not to be “that girl” who looks for love in all the wrong places. Unfortunately, my poker face got so good it became hard to express things even when I wanted to. So what did I do when I met the love of my life? I bluffed, of course! It went like this:
“Okay, Imagine A Cactus”
Daniel continued this odd request with an equally strange follow up: “Now split the screen and imagine the best looking guy you’ve ever seen. Which do you prefer? If it’s the guy, the single life is not for you.”
I leaned back, cradling the phone while staring out my second story dorm room window.”I don’t know. I really like cactus.”
Ugh, can you BELIEVE ME? Fortunately Daddypotamus is not easily provoked to jealousy when it comes to, uh, succulents, so he gave me Fred and insisted I could have both.
The Thing Is . . .
By the end of my 21st year of life I would have slept on a dirt floor if it meant being with this man. But now that I’m, um, NOT 21, I’m kind of used to being pampered. Oh sure, the purse I’ve been carrying around for three years was a $3 Goodwill purchase, but in exchange I have a fresh oysters every week, real butter and pastured eggs. I just might choke if I have to eat MSG-laden Ramen Noodles ever again and – let’s be real – I cannot imagine life without raw cheese.
It’s been a struggle at times, but not for the reasons you’d think. There is this quote from Eat, Pray, Love (Which I do not fully endorse. She got this right, though!), and it goes like this:
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.”
The more I learned about CAFOs and factory farms, the more I saw that it isn’t just our animals and land that we mistreat. As a culture we do far worse to ourselves . . . and breadwinners often take the brunt of it. A few years ago, when Daddypotamus was at a different job, seeing his life in terms of cubicles, 60 hour workweeks and gridlock commutes smacked me awake.
And It Got Me Thinking . . .
Is there a human equivalent of a CAFO? I think so. At least, a few years ago when Daniel and I looked at our life that’s what we saw. We were sleep deprived. We felt guilty for taking vacations because it’s not “productive.” We almost never went outside to breathe fresh air, or smile at the sun, or walk in the moonlight. We never held hands anymore. Our lifestyle was becoming the very definition of unsustainable.
I’m not categorically against cubicles or commutes. This discussion is not meant to criticize the choices (and sometimes sacrifices) people make for those they love. But you are changing the food system everyday by how you vote with your dollars, so I figured you are the kind of person that might care about this, too. Who might see opportunities to improve the way things work. So I’m bringing this to you not as an expert. I’m just someone who wonders if we can do better.
Some things you know instantly while standing over a sneeze guard, but most revelations take time. For us, three years have gone into trying to define our desires (which ultimately turned out to be rolling hills, a half-day drive to the beach, and optimal gardening conditions). We’re finally ready to take our first baby step. And that, friends, is why I packed up my entire house in the last 10 days. The details and timeline are still sketchy, but we hope that as we get close to the big day you locals will join us for a sayonara soiree (with paper plates and wooden benches, ha!).
I wonder what Frank would say. Due to an unfortunate incident with a car door we’ll never know, but I imagine it would be something wise like “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
Or maybe just “WAHOOO!”
What do you think? Is the the typical American lifestyle sustainable? What can we do to make it more so?
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