There are several “markers” in my life which present themselves in such a way as to remind me of the fact the past five or so years have resembled that of a vortex, a whirling mass of something. For instance, tonight I grabbed my ‘chili oil’ from the pantry to use in my dinner dish only to notice the expiration date was fall of 2007 (mind you I have used it several times since then). Last month I began to wonder why my antiperspirant/deodorant was looking odd. Upon closer inspection, “expired December 2010”; the probable cause of the yellowish hue and perhaps my new found “scent”. Vitamins for Cole, expired November 2011. ‘Get the Red Out’ eye-drops, expiration date of 2006–is that why it stung?. I do believe I can even produce some well intended makeup which was purchased several years back when the inspiration to “do something about it” was a fresh idea…probably inspired by a glamorously airbrushed Vogue photo shoot. Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, out of date over a year ago. And do you know what happens to yogurt when it is allowed to extend its shelf life several years? How about lemon curd? …let’s just leave those two alone because smelling the chili oil was bad enough!
Now when I come across such ‘expired’ items as the ones mentioned above, they serve to remind me that I have had cause, since about the beginning of 2007, to loose a bit of the hold on life that I once thought I had. Now whether I did, or whether I didn’t could be discussed philosophically for hours…but that, my friends, would be a moot point. And boring to say the least. But if you take my word for it, you might come to understand–with a bit more clarity–how and why I could possibly be in possession of so many items which are used, and still useful, though quite past their guaranteed shelf life. Just take a look at my week past, project the chaos of the days backward and forward and voilà, here I am.
The gist of the past several days went something like this:
Friday, June 8th– Pick up car rental and head for northern California. Get situated in the rental for the 6 hour drive to the bay area for the high school graduation of my nephew. (Being the projected arrival was due to occur simultaneous to the processional, my long time friend planned to give us a dinner of salmon and flank steak to hold our position in the area of the school so we could meet up with the family afterwards).
1:00p.m. traffic on the 5 freeway north came to a halt. We sat in one location for two hours; the perfect conditions for my ever loving husband to present to myself and our daughter the evils of marijuana smoking and his disdain for recreational drug use. A “public speaking announcement” brought forth from his experience in the men’s bathroom just moments before at the Carls Jr. where we stopped for a moments relief and where he received more than his fair share of second-hand smoke.
3:00p.m. we were escorted off the freeway as the wildfire, which prevented our progress, continued to rage. We were now faced with alternative routes. Thanks to our friends in Bakersfield, we took a very long, though pleasurable, drive around the grapevine and ended up at their house for dinner somewhere close to 6(ish)p.m. Tacos, friends, and a warm place to lay our heads…sorry to say goodbye to the salmon and flank, but glad to be so well received on such short notice with a hospitality that made the 7hour drive worth the while (it is normally a 3 hour drive tops, to Bakersfield from where we live).
Saturday, we finally made it to our original destination, Livermore, CA. The house of my brother and the barbeque celebration of my nephew’s milestone. We enjoyed the afternoon with family and then headed to the east bay for another party–a surprise birthday for my godmother. We celebrated into the night and were part of the clean-up crew which continued the next day into the afternoon. We had intended to leave for home on Sunday but were quite tired from the previous days events and two nights of intermittent sleep (no fault of our hosts, just the way it goes sometimes). So it was decided, between the three of us, that we would stay another night in the bay area and then head home along the coast and take a couple of days for a leisurely Highway 1 adventure. I was even willing to sleep overnight in the car if we couldn’t find a hotel along the way…the call of spontaneity was beckoning to me.
Monday morning, I awoke with a sore throat and we received a call from our son Cole. Cole had intended to make the trek up north with us but hadn’t been feeling well a few days leading up to the trip and so opted out in order to rest. His symptoms had continued to present themselves and he felt a visit with the doctor was in order. Our friend (and neighbor) agreed to take Cole to the doctor at 10 that morning. The doctor, alarmed by her assessment and Cole’s medical history, sent him directly to the ER for further testing. And though we were on our way to the coast, via the 101 freeway, we instead took the Pacheco Pass (152) over to the 5 freeway and arrived at the hospital by 7(ish) p.m., in time to take our newly discharged, though not expired, son home. After having a blood panel drawn and a CT scan with contrast, it seemed his symptoms are result of his brain tumor location. And though we do our best to manage his diet for optimum health, the involuntary actions of the gastrointestinal system are under the mismanagement of a trauma induced malfunction. We made it home, the four of us (our neighbor having spent his entire day with Cole, headed home upon our arrival at the hospital), Cole in need of drink and food and me, by this time, in need of my own personal box of Kleenex.
Tuesday (yesterday), it became apparent I had caught a flu bug of some sort which kept me in bed with a fever and my trusted box of tissues. But even a day of illness could not stop the chaos…Esther called from the shoulder of the freeway, broken down on her way to work. And after the car was towed home, Brian, while out test driving the car after making adjustments to it, was broken down and in need of a ride to the auto parts store. Cole needed me to pick up a stool sample kit from the VA clinic and I just needed to sleep!
So you see, when I do grab something off of a shelf or out of a cabinet that in its ‘hey day’ provided a useful function of some sort but is now debunked by the outing of a date stamp, I am reminded that it is all Okay….yep, all of it. I truly appreciate the notice of expiration because it validates the tourbillion of the past several years, and I wish each one of you were here with me as I toss the spoiled item, into the trash, and laugh at the ironic, but precious, reminder. Ironic because I continued using the product as if it were fresh and viable while unknowingly its potency had been long exhausted. And it is there, in its ‘invalidation’ that I find my own, ‘validation’. Thank you FDA…