• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 06
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When Each Meal is a Millennium

The night I turned 20, I brought Neruda home. Under the covers, he told me that eating alone feels like a chain of fishhooks trailing from one's heart. I paused to count how many I had accumulated thus far but retreated quickly at the sight of silent harpoons that made it difficult to breathe.

Reaching out is like sitting down to a fancy dinner and not knowing which fork to use. I would rather go hungry than make a fool of myself. I have reached an age now when the ingredients of my meals are younger than I am, even that tortoise I treated myself to last week. I eat with a paternal instinct, admonishing the rice grains when they slip off a spoon held by a shaking hand. I have nothing to say to the world that passes me by; my food takes up all my attention. Later, I drift into sleep before memory can upset my digestion.

I remember the night I realized that breakups get worse with age. After a certain point, you never quite come back. He had just walked out of my front door for the last time, leaving a bowl of soup from the Chinese place down the street as closure. I removed the tin foil that covered the bowl half-expecting to see chunks of my heart floating in it. Throughout the short 6 months that we had been together, I realized, I had crumbled into our moments, our meals like dry bread. I wonder if he misses waking up with croutons in his hair.

Youth taught me to pity the old people who ate alone in diners, always in a booth by the window. I thought I was whole, I did not know better.