Extended Metaphor

I have a little more work to do. For all my excavating and enlightening and understanding, there is still one little rip left to heal in regards to my experience of being molested as a child. Forgiveness. I need to forgive myself and I need to forgive him and until I do, I won’t be free. I love the idea, the notion of pure compassion for my abuser and most of me truly wants that, but all of me has to want it and I have to give it freely and purely.

I just might be ready. But first, I have to go to the grocery store. Tonight I am going to a book club gathering at the invitation of a woman that I haven’t seen in probably three or more years. Her idea for the meal was to make a “mashed potato bar” and have each of us bring toppings to add. I’ve decided to mash some yams and bring crispy prosciutto as my offering.
I walk into Whole Foods, thinking that yams ought to be easy to find this time of year, the morning sun rising despite the fog and pushing it away to clear, blue skies and a crisp scent of woodsmoke and cider in the air. I am confronted by rows and rows of potatoes – Yukon Gold, russet, nearly irresistible fingerlings, baby red potatoes nestled together in their red mesh bags – but I can’t seem to find yams. Finally, at the very end of the row my eyes fall on a few softball-sized, knobby red garnet yams, four of them that fell to the bottom of the display ramp with a yard of black shelf liner showing above them, and two tiny, white-skinned sweet potatoes up at the top. I grab them all and shove them into the plastic produce bag and one of the red garnets pokes its pencil-sized end through the plastic as I drop it in my basket.
At home, I hurry through lunch, pushing small sushi rolls in my mouth as I mentally prepare for the remainder of my day, all the time wondering when I will sit and meditate on the work I have yet to do in my heart. The potatoes have to get cooked soon if they will be ready for tonight. I smile as I picture the creamy orange puree in a transparent glass bowl, all of these new women swirling the colorful mash into their bland, white potatoes to give them some pizzazz.
It is a glorious autumn day and I am craving sunshine so I grab my stockpot, cutting board, paring knife and peeler and head out to the deck. Starting with the largest red garnet yam, I rake the peeler (my least favorite one in the house, but the only clean one for now) across the contours of the skin, listening for the satisfying cchcchcchcch sound that comes with the thin slice of skin peeling away. Inside, it is white. No bright orange flesh. Not what I expected. I continue to work away, peels releasing and falling to the cutting board in a mound, and I go back in a few places to get in the crevices and valleys where the peeler doesn’t move smoothly.
By the time I get to the second red garnet I realize that what I’m doing is my work. These paper-thin peels are all the hold my abuser still has on me. They look so solid and impenetrable from the outside. They are banged up and pocked with knots and dings, but they cover the whole of this potato and they are so simple to peel away. Four big, dark, solid ones – they are the men in my life whom I have allowed to hurt me and take my power away. I peel and peel and soon all I have is four smooth, pure objects. As I peeled, I wished for love and peace and hope and was so surprised not to find what I expected inside these potatoes.
I move to the two small, white sweet potatoes and know that they are my sister and me. Our skin is much thinner, but inside we are the same, substantial, dense grouping of cells that made those larger red-skinned ones potatoes. When all six of them are in the pot of boiling water, they will all cook at the same rate. I will drain them, mash them, mix them with butter and fresh cream and be thankful for the notion that I can make something good and nourishing of this. We are not so different, my abuser and me. We are imperfect humans. I don’t have to know why he is who he is or why he did what he did to my sister and me. That is not for me to know. I can acknowledge that I have allowed him to have power over me for far too long and thank the Universe for letting me learn to be strong and compassionate in the face of that.
I wonder what other culinary marvels await me on this journey.
7 replies
  1. Deb Shucka
    Deb Shucka says:

    What an amazing story this is. The insights. The writing. The woman you're growing into with each new peeling away. Blessings and love to you.

  2. Dave Richardson
    Dave Richardson says:

    I like your style of prose and eye for detail. The metaphor linking food preparation to catharsis is really powerful. Well done.


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