For the next two weeks I am choosing to explain my re-enactment in prose form. These are my last two opportunities to re-experience the ending chapters of my memoir, “Food Memories,” and I’d like to say more than a poem can about them and my process :}
This week, I chose to re-enact the memory of me going to Rite-Aid to challenge myself with an ice cream cone for afternoon snack. This wasn’t a long-ago memory, it was just a few years ago in 2016 that I decided to put myself through day treatment to help me with eating issues after a long time struggling alone.
In the memory, the dietician suggested I choose something that brought back good memories, to go purchase and allow myself to enjoy that. If you’ve been on this journey with me from the beginning, or have read my book, you’ll remember that Vanilla Ice Cream was my first food memory, and was one particularly filled with joy. So it was this food that I wanted to challenge myself that day.
What ended up happening in the original memory is a full-body freezing response to some sort of unknown sexual trauma. It surfaced as I stood outside of the Rite Aid, licking the dripping white liquid, feeling it run down my hands, feeling people in cars passing by, watching. And what snapped me out of it was a crow, hopping on the telephone line above me, catching my attention.
Fast forward to this weekend, when I chose to go to the neighborhood Rite Aid to re-enact the memory.
As I was planning to head out, a friend asked if I wanted to connect, and I said I was doing a few things if she’d like to join me. I chose to let her into this experience, trusting what it would bring.
I met her in the parking lot, as as we walked towards each other I saw she had something in her hand. When she came closer, I recognized she was carrying a picture of a crow. “My friend said she wanted you to have it.” She smiled.
I didn’t think much of it at the moment, except that it was a sweet gesture from someone I didn’t really know.
We walked over to the Rite Aid and entered the whoosh of the automatic doors, the coolness meeting our skin. My friend excused herself to look for another item while I went to order my ice cream. I saw the “Chocolate Malted Crunch” flavor I also loved as a kid and for a moment wondered if I should get this flavor. I decided to stick with Vanilla for the memory’s sake.
I stepped up to the counter and there was a family of four treating themselves to various cones and scoops. They were all “overweight” body types in the societal judgement of things, except for the little girl that was with them. The clerk serving them was also of this type. I noted this as a possible synchronicity to explore.
But what was also occurring while standing there waiting was this weird hidden shame feeling. The family was acting jovial and cheery, but as I do not fall into that body type I was feeling all of these kinds of comparison, self-judgments, etc, in the field. I am not sure if it was mine or theirs or what. I just felt it.
Another thing to note.
As I approached the counter, I noticed that the clerk wouldn’t look me in the eye, and was fidgeting a lot to avoid direct contact. Again, not ever sure what is mine and what is another’s, I approached him with gentleness and tried to make the interaction as clean as possible. I tried to engage him about what its like working during the summer at the ice cream counter, the rushes, etc (I did this too at that age). He didn’t seem to understand me, and was fumbling. Again, I tried to send good energy to the whole situation, to not create as little embarrassment/weirdness as possible.
That interaction complete, I met back up with my friend and we went for a walk in the gardens outside while I ate. I was a bit nervous of what might happen outside, if I would face a synchronistic sexist comment or situation that would remind me of that day in 2016. But I did not. I was simply surrounded by plant and human friend, strolling in the sunshine, eating an ice cream cone like a “normal person.”
I did struggle with whether or not to eat the cone at the end, and deciding that the ice cream was a big enough challenge, chose not to. (Later I thought about it and realized that this used to be my favorite part, eating the dribbly creaminess and crunching cone all together…I had a full on craving and visual experience of how good that was…and wondered why I didn’t remember this in the moment.)
My friend and I sat in a park afterwards and talked about spirit encounters, Brazilian psychics and agnostic ideas for balance lol. It was a good day.
In reflecting about the experience, I thought about how it both related to the original memory…as well as how it helped me heal/deepen into it. While it wasn’t crystal clear as in some memory re-enactments I’ve had, I do feel there were interesting bits.
Crow, once again, being with me, seemingly helping me to stay present.
The viewing (and possible empathic feeling) of people’s self-judgments about their bodies, about enjoying their senses, as if I was getting an opportunity to see what my own shadow energies around my body and sensuality shame were…from a distance. Without it totally taking me over, immobilizing me.
And then the fact that I was not alone, that my friend met me and was with me. She did not eat with me, but she was with me…which is a rare thing: me eating with others around. Letting her see me want/desire something, letting her see me purchase it and eat it with joy…this was healing. The fact that there wasn’t a gnarly sexual issue that came up was refreshing too. The fact that I could enjoy this, simply eating an ice cream cone without drama, was refreshing.
Thanks, nervous server guy.
And thanks, Rite Aid Vanilla Ice Cream.
Ps. Next time I’ll eat the cone.
*Thanks for reading! Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Egg Salad Sandwich.” I’ve been re-enacting these memories chronologically from my memoir, and this will be the very last one!
**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here:
or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.