Last night I broke the rule: I had a snack after 7pm. But, I am so glad I did. That simple act led to a reconnection with myself. You see, my snack involved the use of a small plastic bowl. Not just any bowl, but this Shirt Tales bowl.
I stood at the sink, rinsing the bowl out before placing it in the dishwasher. I paused to stare at that monkey at the bottom of the bowl. Now might be a good time to reveal that my husband and I do not have children. The monkey bowl belongs to me. In fact, that monkey bowl is somewhere around 25 years old. I have really had it that long, probably even longer since I think I used to eat out of it when I still used a rubber-coated spoon.
This is where I could have gone down a different road than where I actually wound up. I could have held that bowl and felt the weight of all those years. I could have focused on how distant I am from the little girl who was so eager to scrape the bottom of the bowl clean just to see the monkey at the bottom. I could have felt (eek!) old.
Instead of feeling the weight and the distance, holding that bowl in my hand made me feel connected to the me I used to be—the little me who used to rush through a meal for the shear joy of reaching the monkey. The me I have always been and will always be.
I thought about how every one of the moments I have lived through make up part of who I am. Because I am a reader, I often find my truest self on the pages of a book, articulated most eloquently through a character in a story.
So, to really wrap my head around this idea, I thought about how Sandra Cisneros describes, in her story “Eleven,” that when you are eleven, you are also ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one.
I also thought about the way Margo Rabb describes the moments of our lives building up like layers to shape who we are, in her book Cures for Heartbreak. She refers to peeling back layers to reveal important people who have shaped us along the way and remain part of who we are forever.
I also thought about Kathryn Lasky’s book Blood Secret and how the protagonist in that book is transported through time just be touching an object of importance in her family’s history.
That’s how powerful I felt my grip on that bowl was.
The bowl revealed that I am not just thirty-two, but I am thirty-one, thirty, twenty-nine…you get the idea.
The bowl was tucked somewhere in the layers of my life history. The bowl was my catalyst, propelling me through time and place to the yellow linoleum of a kitchen in the early 80s.
Standing on the hardwood floor of my kitchen last night, I placed the bowl in the dishwasher (top rack, just to be safe) and smiled about having reached the monkey at the bottom of the bowl once again.