Time, Measured in Spices

Standing at the kitchen stove, cooking supper, I reached for the pepper grinder. Almost out. When I bought the jar that stored pepper as well as ground it, I was horrified at the expense. “Oh, well,” I thought, by the time I need more pepper, I’ll just use the peppercorns from the pantry.

empty jar of pepperI remember not wanting to buy large quantities of paper towels, toilet paper, detergent. I wouldn’t be in the apartment long. I refused to buy spices, as it was a waste when my husband would be joining me shortly, and I’d have my kitchen back.

So when I ground the last of the pepper tonight, I counted how long I’d been out here alone: Six months. Half a year. The house is still on the market (C’mon, St. Joeseph!), I talk to my husband on a cell phone, and I have no TV, no real furniture, and most of my art supplies are packed in boxes in the basement across the country, waiting to be moved.

I’ll admit I’ve purchased art supplies. I simply caved around month three, and have added to them since then. But the spices just did me in. I’ve ground my way through entire jar of peppercorns, waiting.

No doubt, other women have waited longer. I was one of the women who waited for a husband to come back from Vietnam. The best way to tell that story is to say that the one I’m waiting for now is not the same man I waited for then. It was a long time ago.

Day by day, I’m changing and so is he. No longer all that young, we are learning how to live apart, how to do without, how to create independent lives. None of these lessons are ones I wanted to get advanced skills in. Neither do I want to move back. I like it here.

So we are caught in time. Him there, me here, running out of spices.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and training developer in communications topics: writing, giving presentations and dealing with the corporate culture you find yourself in. She is also a certified creativity coach. (c) 2008 All rights reserved.