Too Much Salad

I left for Spain having lost six pounds the hard way (running, weight lifting, watching what I eat) and managed to gain eight while there. How’s that possible? I now believe it comes down to too much salad. A slim friend in Spain told me that she doesn’t do a lick of exercise, but only controls everything that goes into her mouth. When I told her a typical day’s meal at home in New Orleans, she noted that I was eating too much salad.

I’ve come home after several weeks of basking in the beach life of Andalusia. This was my sixth year in Zahara de los Atunes and it’s nothing short of marvelous to be there and to watch Tin grow, develop, thrive and be. He’s quite amazing by the sea. The experience of sitting on a pristine beach and looking across the Mediterranean to Africa’s hills rising is in itself mesmerizing.

Six years of watching the sun set at almost 10 PM and watching friends there bend, grow, step sideways, and fall in and out of love in just the short span. The changes and the certainty of these individuals are something to behold.

In the mirror of the last decade, I’ve watched myself swell, shrink, and go bouncing along a continuum that has been high and low and never dull. A friend in Spain asked how this year’s work has been, knowing that the past few years have been fraught with me trying to build a business. I said this year I made less money than any year in the last six, but that I had accomplished a whole lot more of my projects than any other year. Seven chapters of my book workshopped through the Walker Percy center at Loyola University. As well, I’ve made more connections with networking around my core work on parenting and race. Time with Tin. It’s been a very productive year, despite what my bank account says.

The career I left behind versus the one I’m working to build have nothing in common, but I preminisced no return of the salad days of big fat paychecks, huge mortgages and Prada shoes – not because it is not doable, it is simply not desirable.

Yesterday, I cooked collard greens with ginger and cumin seeds, then lentil curry and plain brown rice. It’s such a joy to be home again, in my own kitchen, sleeping in my own bed, using American bathrooms, and organizing around daily routines. I think my Spanish friend was right. I have a tendency to go too far in one direction trying to do what I think I should – in this respect, I am purely American. I didn’t start off chasing the brass ring, but I did fall into it in a big way and found myself running in step with the whole pursuit of success that brought money and no time, items that were overpriced and underused, and then there were the shoes – instead of contemplating sunsets, holding a child in my lap, or simply being.

Now here I sit at my table to enjoy a delicious meal in a sanctuary I call home.

My friend’s right. I have been eating too much salad.


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