Updated: Aug 28
Ever since I can remember, I have loved pudding. As a little girl, I muddled around my grandmother's kitchen, watching her make chocolate pudding on the stove. My grandfather would sit on the stool, watching the goings-on from the countertop as he always did when she and I were in the kitchen together. I can still see him there in his knit tan sweater. Grandmother would serve the puddings hot in sundae cups. The tops were significantly thicker - "pudding skin singles" as George Costanza once affectionately called them in an episode of Seinfeld. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the tops. To say that homemade chocolate pudding became a sort of a thing is an understatement. Though exclusive to grandmother's kitchen at the time and therefore, a delicacy, I came to associate pudding with comfort food.
At some point, we graduated from pudding in cups to the no-bake pudding pie. It was a wonder to behold - chocolate pudding pie with Cool Whip nestled in graham cracker crust. I had always been a s'mores girl, and this dessert seemed to marry all the ingredients together. Best of all, it didn't have to be made on-demand like the s'mores did. As I never could achieve the same level of satisfaction from store-bought pudding, the caveat remained the same: it had to be homemade. At this, pudding pie became the dessert - made by my grandmother, then my mother, and now me. You would think that, for Italians, we would have a more elaborate and heritage-oriented dessert. While those certainly exist in my family, the pudding pie has remained a fixture throughout the generations - perhaps for its ease, versatility, and the fact that it tastes even better the next day.
As I began sketching out this piece last night, I had just finished my last spoonful of that melt-in-your-mouth chocolate, the fluff of the Cool Whip upon my tongue, the crunch of the graham cracker, the chocolate sprinkles serving as garnish and somehow pulling it all together. Every now and then, I hear a call for chocolate that refuses to be ignored. Lately, I have been singing that Spandau Ballet song in my head. If this is indeed, the "sound of my soul," then you would think my soul would be sweeter! Instead, it just feels uneasy. To be fair, though, I don't know of a soul right now that doesn't feel some degree of uneasiness. I find myself thinking of the quote, "know thyself," and what that looks like at this time in living history. If I am wise, it is because I know who I am, what I need, and what triggers me. If I am wise, it is because I know that the whole of me matters. I know that I am the Pie, every inch of me worthy of being savored like a pudding pie or that apple pie I will no doubt transition to making come September.
Because I am the Pie, I know the importance of passionate prosperity. I know that real richness - true value - lies in applying focus to our relationships with each other. I didn't always know this, and my thoughts trail to a friend who passed away by suicide one year ago today. I had so many opportunities to spend time with him that I did not take advantage of. I had lost myself in life - in things that I thought were major that ended up being trivialities in the long run. That's not to say such "things" weren't important or even big in their own way, but I never should have traded my relationship with my friend - or potential lover or partner, (who knows?) - for them. Our story went unfinished. I don't want any more unfinished stories, as I realize now how important it is to prioritize special bonds. My friend never knew what he meant to me because I didn’t show him my heart through my actions - in this case, by making the time for him - and he wasn’t the first. Having always been on my own quest for self-improvement, I struggled with channeling energy into my relationships. I didn't realize that relationships are part of self-improvement in that they allow us to experience love and to know love, among other things.
I carry some degree of pain inside. I think we all do. But I can’t help but think of it as another lesson in not letting something important slip away, and I am reminded of “Wild Horses” in which Mick sings: “I just can’t let you slide through my hands.” Joy is the harmonizing of two hungers, two smiles, of eyes that talk to each other - desirous of living because we don't last forever - and we yearn to feel it. Only when we focus on the relationships that bring us joy and make time for them do we increase security and stability in our world, which serves to influence everything else - and I think about the emptiness that comes over me at the end of every August, and how I just don’t want to go it alone anymore. I think about how much better I am when I love and am loved. I think about my emotional tank and how it feels so very empty when I am not getting my basic needs met - often when connections become sporadic. Affection and support create stronger foundations, worth their weight in gold. Reciprocity is one of the most valuable things that we can offer another, yet the natural push and pull of life can challenge even the strongest of connections.
The Pie knows and accepts this. But I also know that it’s what we do in the face of challenge that matters most, especially where love is concerned. A lover needs to see this effort from us, just as a dear friend would also need to see it. I know the importance of the phrase "each other" and what it should look like to be present for someone I love - even on my "off" days because I need that consistency and believe that the other person deserves it, too. Anything less hurts my heart because I don't know where I stand amid the red light-yellow light confusion. I strive to find the sweet spot within a meaningful connection, and remain where the light is steadily green. As we were designed for connection both inside and outside, my soul wants fullness, freedom, and union. Reciprocated connection is the thing.
It isn't about the desire to "lasso the love" out of someone but rather, the quiet comfort in knowing that someone is choosing to be present because you matter to them - because they have decided that they can live without you, but they don't want to - because while there are no doubt other things going on in their life that you may never know, they recognize that you are also an important part of it. Let us not forget that silence can speak very loudly. The Librarian - I mean, the Pie - should know. There comes a time when the scariest thing isn't to take a risk to change but instead, to sit back and allow things to remain the same. Clarity prefers clarity, and I find myself re-working that line from Hamlet in my head: We shall not look upon each other's like again.
Let's find the time
to do the things
that we only have time to do once
because the love is there,
and we matter.
There will never be another you
or you and me.
What turns you on?
If it's me,
then hurry up please.
"Take your seaside arms, and write the next line,"
The Red Queen