I constantly but rarely but almost always but kind of never think about the passing of time. When I do it and I mean to I mean when I do it on purpose I mean when I do it consciously I mean without really intending to, it is often when I am cleaning out my refrigerator.
I purge my food all at once, often letting a minor stockpile form until it is enough to keep a small army fed on half-finished jars of Goya salsa verde and old goat cheese that is probably bad now but I've held onto it for so long because it was so expensive. But really what’s $6. I bought it for a meal I made during a particularly lonesome weekend when despite feeling particularly lonely I also felt particularly happy. By particularly happy I mean not depressed. By not depressed I mean my paper towel mind took a moment an hour a weekend a break from soaking up the world. By that I mean not anxious. By not anxious I mean not inexplicably worried about the passing of time.
I once packed a picnic for myself and a vegetarian lover. Months later after he’d already strung a curtain of deadened silence between us, I found myself tossing the Daisy sour cream– a picnic purchase– into my broken garbage can. It’s my roommate's and she won't buy a new one. I didn’t even open the container to check to see if the sour cream was bad. It’d expired, was gone no matter what. I hadn’t realized how much time I’d already lived since my fantastic relationship with the vegetarian. Fantastic because it was never realistic not for a moment. I’d daydream him into years down the road still grinning at me through his gummy smile. Last Thursday feels like the Wednesday before which feels like last August which is when I was last lounging in the glow of the possibility of us.
Right now there are probably nearly a dozen things in the fridge I must sift through. As though I have the authority to say if something is still good. To say too much time has passed. To be the decision maker. I cannot do this if I don’t even feel the time passing until the food has already gone bad. Until the cream has curdled, the shredded cheese melted together, the green pepper turned rusty brown, seeds scattered about. The half can of soup I poured into a Tupperware has gone moldy, but I don’t want to wash the container so I’m letting it sit until I come up with a plan. I can’t get away with this forever.
When I see the jar of sundried tomatoes I once used to make a Mediterranean meal for myself, I notice the months old expiration date but don’t take it in at first because that means I’ve now been seeing this new, carnivorous man for nearly three months. I know this because I haven’t cooked myself a meal besides fried eggs since we met. We eat a lot of takeout. Three months now but every time I want to tell him the truth I find myself silent, behind him in his bed, lip singing repeated choruses of I love you’s hoping he doesn’t hear my lips moving. Hoping one might slip out on accident so it’s not up to me. Wishing I’d thrown away the tomatoes earlier. Hoping my roommate doesn’t come home and catch me, declaring no no no, I’ll use these, I’ll get to them. She is bad at letting go of food but she is fortunate enough to not get so quickly attached to humans like I do. I become too tangled with everyone I feel for. I cling like the plastic wrap on the old lemon in the vegetable drawer.
I want to unwrap the lemon and suck on it until my cheeks hurt and the juice squirts out around my mouth burning my pink, slightly chapped lips. I want to unravel myself from all these people. From all these men. I want to take care of myself but I long to be taken care of. I wish I took better care of the fridge so these purges would be more infrequent more ongoing every day. I wish I could let things go sooner. I wish I could let myself go. I wish I could let go of you. I wish I could go to you and be with you always. I wish I could be more realistic. I wish I was better at taking care of things. Of my plants. Of the fridge. Of myself. Of all of it.
Heather Domenicis is a Manhattan based writer moonlighting at a tech startup. She is working on a memoir about her childhood and writing sad poems about tricky relationships. Her work can be found at Hobart. She sometimes tweets.