Monday, November 1, 2010

Pie Heals. Just When You Think it Doesn't

Pie heals. Pie heals. Pie heals. Pie heals. Pie heals. How many more times do I have to keep saying this? And how many more pies do I have to make before I heal? According to my calculations I've made 231 pies in the 14 and a half months since Marcus died. And yet there is still a deep and bitter heartache that lingers. Then, adding grief upon grief, I recently took the risk of trying to love again. Yes, there has been a new man in my life. Sort of. No, I have not told many people about him. Maybe because it was just too soon, or more likely because I knew the relationship wasn't viable. (The man of my affection lives on the East coast and isn't, shall we say, "available.") Regardless of the myriad reasons – er, limitations – it just didn’t work out (as much as I wanted it to.) So rather than lose my balance completely in this impossible situation, I read him his Last Rites on Saturday and promptly went running back into the therapist's office -- a.k.a. my kitchen. To make more pie. Pie heals. Pie heals. Pie heals.

X marks the spot. We did make a cute couple.
I made a few pies, but not enough to keep up with sales at my Pitchfork Pie Stand. And not nearly enough to extract Mr. X out of my already wounded heart. (Really. What was I thinking? That I would actually have the capacity to be in a relationship again so soon? Even if I was ready for love, I simply wasn't discerning enough and picked someone who couldn’t reciprocate fully.)

So on Sunday morning, before any pie customers showed up at my door, I spent several hours back in therapy. I measured the flour, worked in the butter and shortening, added the ice water, and kneaded the whole lot together. Mind you, I was careful not to take out my frustrations on my precious pie dough. At least not right away. The aggression came in the next stage, rolling out the dough with my Big Wooden Pin. (Wielding that potential weapon in my hand it's a good thing Mr. X was 2,000 miles away!) I took that rolling pin and flattened that dough into submission, using short, hard strokes to stretch the dough into shape, and leaning my whole body weight onto the butcher block table. Take that! And that! I rolled out at least 40 crusts, and took great satisfaction in pinching the edges of each one -- If you can't commit, Mr. X, then here's what you get...crimp, crimp, crimp. I was putting so much muscle into it you could see the veins in my forearms popping out. Ouch!

That was Sunday. Today was Monday, and upon waking realized I had a freezer full of pie shells and a heavy heart. Very heavy. And no customers. Pitchfork Pie Stand is closed on Mondays. I didn't need to make any more pie -- couldn’t make anymore anyway as there was no room in the refrigerator -- so I was forced to seek out other forms of solace.

Eat? Of course! I pigged out all day on a burger and fries, brownies, banana bread, chocolate, and the ultimate comfort food (sorry, pie) – mashed potatoes. No amount of calories could ease the heartache. And only made me feel worse.

Drink? Absolutely. A glass of red wine a day is good for your health. So say the French. In my state, two would be in order.But I didn't want to wake up with a headache to add to the heart.

Cry? Been there, done that. For the past 14 months straight to be exact. Mr. X didn’t die a tragic death at a far-too-young age so, really, no need to sob over him. I already hit rock bottom when Marcus died, and the “disappointment” of Mr. X is a mere speed wobble compared to that. Amazing what a little perspective will do for you. Sigh.

Call all my closet girlfriends and kvetch? Luckily Melissa answered her phone on the second ring and provided a willing ear. We’ve been friends for many years, long before I met Marcus. She is the kind of friend who rushed back from her summer vacation in Maine to be with me after Marcus’ funeral in Portland. And today, this athletic, adventurous friend with whom I’ve done several triathlons propped me up yet again with a simple, gentle suggestion. “Go for a bike ride,” she said.

And so I did. I put on my warm fleece to shield myself from the late afternoon autumn chill. I coasted downhill to the highway and followed the river to the next town. I put my head down and focused on the slick black asphalt of the road beckoning me forward. My muscles burned as my legs pumped up and down. The blood flowed faster and faster through my arteries. The oxygen energized my lungs. The cold air flushed my cheeks and invigorated my nostrils. As if the bodily sensations were not perfect enough, a red tail hawk flew in front of me. And then I saw a deer grazing in a field. As I was taking in all this stimulus, I was reminded of how empowered I feel when I exercise. I was reminded of how much I love riding my bike, and how much I love riding my bike in nature. I was reminded that no matter who is in my life, Marcus or Mr. X or anyone else, whether or not I’m widowed or disappointed by a relationship or finding new love, I will be okay. My dad always calls me a survivor. And that’s what I will continue to do: Survive.

I pedaled faster and harder, and with each gulp of hay-scented country air, my heart felt a little lighter, a little bit healed.

I continued to move along at a good clip on my sleek racing bike, admiring the sun setting over the plowed fields. The sky, turning pink, was glowing and gorgeous. I was so absorbed in this moment of nature’s beauty and reveling in my newly invigorated spirit that I -- kid you not -- rode right over a pile of cow manure splattered on the road. A cow pie! I could only laugh. The lesson was clear. All I had to do was take a break from the kitchen to see it. I had been right all along: Pie heals.

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