Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.
— Mark Twain

Wednesday’s Writing Group prompt: What is the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

I am not going to go into details on this (so maybe I’ve picked the wrong thing for this prompt?). Something happened to me – or, more accurately, someone did something to me – many, many years ago. It fucked me up in a lot of ways for a really long time, and probably still does, to an extent.  But the person responsible is not a monster; I don’t hate this person, and I’m not angry at this person. I forgave this person a long time ago and, honestly, it wasn’t even that hard to do.  I’m responsible for me, and any anger or hurt or resentment I carried over what happened only hurt me, kept me from moving forward, so it had to go. And that was the end of that.


Liar, Liar

“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.”
— Holden Caulfield, in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Tuesday’s Writing Group prompt: Tell us about a lie you’ve told.

I am a terrible liar and so, as a consequence, I rarely lie.  As an adult.  As a kid? Different story.

The very first lie I can remember telling happened when I was 4.  I was in pre-school and some of the other kids were talking about some tv show – a cartoon, I think – that had recently aired.  I hadn’t seen it, because I wasn’t really allowed to watch tv, but I desperately wanted to be part of the group, so I said, “Well, when I saw it, . . . ” and proceeded to make up something that probably didn’t make any sense.  I don’t remember what I said happened, but I know the other kids were not buying it.

My Madeleine

And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; . . . . But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.
— from Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust (aka The Cookie)

Today’s Writing Group prompt: Do you have any foods that are tied to specific memories or emotions?

Huh. The title of this prompt was Eat Your Feelings, which is an actual thing that I do, so at first I was thrown by the substance of the prompt. But then I remembered that just last Sunday, on my birthday, driving home from dinner at the tapas restaurant where David and I had our first date, I posted this on Facebook:

It’s amazing how a piece of crusty bread with chorizo and manchego can so thoroughly transport me back to Spain. Proust was on to something.

So of course there could be no other quote to head this post. I’m telling you, I sighed audibly when I took my first bite last weekend. And really, I don’t even need the chorizo or the manchego.  Sometimes just olive oil, with a little salt and pepper, for dipping.  And sometimes just the bread is enough to send me back, especially when it’s still warm.

One of my favorite things in the whole world to do with the crusty bread is something I discovered in Spain: pan con tomate (I almost wish I  could reuse the quote from that post for this one – too perfect).  Trust me on this one. This is the dish that brings me most immediately back to Spain – to so many tiny restaurants in Barcelona where I had it for the first time, to Salamanca where I made all my new study abroad friends try it and felt like a native, to a private room at a restaurant way up in the hills way outside Barcelona with one old friend and 12 new ones where I had it for the last time in Spain. I’m tearing up just thinking about the last one now – I remember sitting there that night, listening to five different conversations floating around me – in both Spanish and Catalan – drinking wine, sharing bread (I don’t even remember what else we ate), laughing so loud, thinking how lucky I was and how I’d always remember that moment.

They See Me Rollin’

Money may not buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus.
— Francoise Sagan

Today’s Writing Group prompt: Talk about a car trip you’ve been on. Do you like to travel by car? Do you prefer to drive or be a passenger?

We drive to and from Detroit about twice a year.  We always take David’s car (since it’s his family we go to see) and he usually drives the whole way.  Car trips make me tired; I’m usually asleep before we hit Pennsylvania (we come from Northern Virginia). We play this license plate game that we picked up at the LL Bean in Freeport on our way home from our honeymoon to pass the time.  David thinks it’s unfair to have to suspend the game when I nap, so the deal is, he keeps track of the ones he saw while I was asleep and then if I find them twice before he finds them again, I get them.  Otherwise, he gets them.  He always wins.

I love taking car trips, especially by myself.  I sing as loud as I can to my iPod and car dance and don’t care what anyone around me thinks.

I’ve never been on a “movie road trip,” you know, you and your girls with the top down, music up, back seat full of snacks and drinks.  But I do own The Bad Girl’s Guide to the Open Road, which I’ve read cover to cover.  That counts, right?  Maybe when we turn 50, me and Aimee and Karen will ditch our husbands and kids and finally take that trip.

Just Be

. . . [We] watched the half-moon out the window while we creaked back and forth in the rhythm that all women know from secrets whispered to their genes at the time of their conception.
— from Range of Motion, by Elizabeth Berg

Yesterday’s Writing Group prompt:  Where or when have you felt the most relaxed and at peace?

This is a hard one for me.  It’s not easy for me to relax; my mind runs a million miles a minute with things that need to be done, I worry about so many things, and I hardly ever let myself just BE.  I’ve been in the middle of massages and had to catch myself getting anxious about stuff and just repeat, “Relax, relax, relax.”

Maybe the best times, though, have been when my niece and nephew were tiny babies and I would watch them for the evening while my brother and sister-in-law went out.  I loved rocking them in the dark after feeding them, singing to them while they fell asleep.  I would keep them in my arms long past when they were finally asleep, just watching their sweet faces and their little chests moving up and down.  There is just no feeling like that in the world, is there?

Elliot - June 2004

Elliot – June 2004

Adam - January 2006

Adam – January 2006