Yesterday we took my granddaughter to The Polar Caves for the first time. This had been one of our favorite trips when our daughters were young. Before going, I explained that I wouldn’t be going with her into one of the caves, The Lemon Squeeze, because I wouldn’t fit. (Things like this need to be explained beforehand to avoid meltdowns in the moment.) She thought for a moment and said, “Maybe it’s designed for noodles, and you’re a meatball. We’re all noodles, you’re a meatball. Isn’t that a good description?”
Yes! It’s an excellent description. I AM the lone meatball in a family of noodles. And it’s not just because of my nicely rounded shape. I’m the poet meatball scribbling in a notebook in the corner, writing my little rhymes. I’m the introvert meatball who talks like an extrovert. I’m the TV-junkie meatball wanting to watch all the new shows every fall. I’m the meatball who enjoys those tense and gripping shows that somehow make me feel better about my own life (not bitter that no one would watch 24 with me, really, not the least bit bitter). I’m the vegan meatball surrounded by carnivores, which oddly ensures my safety. Best not to dwell too deeply on that one.
My oldest daughter was appalled on my behalf when she heard this latest family description, but I assured her that instead of feeling mortified, I was thoroughly amused. I thought it was a great description, very accurate, and quite clever. (I spent the rest of the day calling myself a meatball, and it made me laugh every time.) I am short and round. They aren’t. There’s nothing offensive about that truth. It wasn’t said to hurt me, just the opposite. She was looking for a way to explain why I shouldn’t feel left out: this cave just wasn’t designed for you. Don’t take it personally. Keep on walking, we’ll meet you on the other side. Being different doesn’t mean you’re not as good, as loved, as important, as included as everyone else. Sometimes you’ll feel like you don’t fit. Don’t let it get you down. Look for the bypass. Reconnect when you can. Embrace your meatbally goodness and celebrate the differences you bring to plate.