The other day I had a hankering for a bagel with cream cheese. The thing is, I am trying very hard to go back to a dairy-free life. I managed it for about 8 months when I was told I had a food sensitivity to all dairy products that was causing inflammation and exacerbating my fibromyalgia. I felt 1,000 times better off dairy and was really getting the hang of it. Then a year ago I fell off the wagon and since then haven’t managed to get back to all that tofu and kale.
Now, if you are a full-fledged vegan please do not hate me for what I am about to say. But every fake cheese alternative I have tried, well there is no other way to put it, just sucks. I decided it was time, however, to try again and I picked up some vegan cream cheese spread.
You can imagine my shock and delight when I discovered it was amazingly good. I was besides myself! My whole life was about to change! It tasted just like the real thing.
Which, unfortunately, made sense because it was. I misread the label. It was good old-fashioned 100% from the cow organic cream cheese.
What the heck?
How could I have 1) mistaken this obvious tub of full-on fat dairy product for some unpleasant healthy soy alternative, and 2) continue to believe it was vegan even after slathering it on a bagel (or two) and joyously devouring it?
We are complicated creatures. We want things so much at times we just believe they are what they are not. And to make things more difficult, sometimes it really is hard to tell. Is it a healthy snack or will it give me cancer in 15 years? Are you smiling at me because you think I’m attractive or is there spinach in my teeth? Is white wheat bread white bread or wheat bread? Was that wild adoration and affection you showed me in the first 6 months really you or some planetary alignment or hormonal surge? Are you complimenting my writing because you really like it or are you trying to make me feel better? Are you trying to make me feel better because you like me or do you just want to seem like a good person? Are you a Democrat or Republican? Obi-Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader? Prince or The Artist Formally Known as Prince? Half-empty, half-full? And tell us Sigmund, how do you tell when a cigar is really just a cigar?
As my father often says, nothing’s easy.
Sitting here at the computer, staring at the blank screen–is it unlimited opportunity or am I shackled to a cold dungeon wall? And if we don’t quite know the truth, the answer, the absolute, how do we write about it?
With flair. With gusto. With utter abandon. Weaving truth, lies, perception, irony, duplicity, memory, delusion, candor, confusion into story.
Again and again.