Somewhere around this time last year I met a dear childhood friend for some ice cream in Portland. Specifically, the Pots of Gold and Rainbows flavor at Salt & Straw. For you Lucky Charms fans out there, March is a dream come true in Portland, because this flavor is like biting into nostalgia.
As a child, sugary cereal was not really a staple in our house. We were more of a Rice Crispy, Crunchy Oat Bran, Crispix kind of family…. On a very rare occasion Cinnamon Toast Crunch was thrown into the mix, but it wasn’t very often that anything resembling Lucky Charms made its way into the pantry. I vividly remember spending one day after breakfast in my play room under the stairs writing in my diary about how when I grew up I was going to let my kids eat sugary cereal… which now makes me laugh. A lot… A) Who writes that kind of stuff in a diary? B) lord knows if I even have kids I will not feed them sugary cereal because I cherish my own sanity too much… and because I will probably hoard it all for myself …
Minus the dramatic journal entry, I don’t remember sugary cereal or lack thereof being a big deal, but maybe it was, because once when I was in middle school my grandmother got me a box of Lucky Charms for Christmas, and it was kind of amazing! I mean who doesn’t want their own special box of cereal? The next year I was so excited as I ripped open the cereal shaped box, only to discover instead of the treasured Lucky Charms, a box of Fruit Loops (gross), as my grandmother only remembered that I like the cereal in the red box. For the next several years, I always managed to get a box of Fruit Loops for Christmas…. It was an amazing gesture on her part, and of course no one had the heart to tell her that I actually hated Fruit Loops/ that she got the wrong sugar packed breakfast item.
Last year, as my friend and I sat in Salt and Straw savoring the tiny marshmallow speckled ice cream, we reminisced about our childhood ( Once I went with her family down to Utah to go hiking and camping, and whatnot, and our back seat car snack was a box of Lucky Charms. It. Was. Epic. In that on a trip without your own parents, pre-teen, indulging on sugared cereal kind of way). We talked about the new job I had just started, unemployment battles, how sometimes being a grown up can really suck, being in debt, adventures we were planning, and of course about how amazing the ice cream was.
Flash forward almost a year. Last Saturday I’m sitting at work, on my break and talking to a co-worker about his new relationship. He had that excited smile, a slight wistfulness in his eyes as he was telling me about the last few days and dates with this girl. He then stopped and asked me what was new in my life, and with that same excited smile and wistful look I said “I’m going to get Lucky Charms Ice cream this week at Salt & Straw.” His eye roll let me know how pathetic my news sounded compared to his, but whatever… I say relish the small things!
Monday rolled around and I was already planning out my ice cream route. I packed a cooler with ice, went to do a barre workout, and then drove the rest of the way into Portland with the sole goal of indulging in ice cream. I was pretty much dressed like a yoga fisherwoman… bright red rain boots, brown yoga pants, my trusty Jacobsen Salt hoodie, black down vest… I hadn’t showered, no makeup, post workout hot-mess… and of course it was one of those weird in-between rain moments where the sun is shining and its all humid and warm, and you know the only reason the sun is out at all is because you are traipsing around town in your rain boots.
I purchased my ice cream, and sat down for a moments to savor the marshmallowy goodness (lets face it, I also got Arbequina Olive Oil Ice Cream… I can’t go to Salt & Straw and not get it… even now years later, I still have such a huge sense of ownership over it, remembering sitting down with them before they even had a shop, talking about the possibilities of making an olive oil flavor. Way back before it was a staple there, before Oprah named it as one of her favorite flavors, it was just me and my boss and the main ice cream guy sitting in a room with a bottle of olive oil, talking about potential.) As I was enjoying the ice cream (which was naturally, extra delicious after a workout) I was catching up on social media, scanning my e-mails, and doing a little light reading. I took the opportunity to read a blog post by one of my super talented friends about being nostalgic for her life working at a nearby restaurant. I finished my ice cream, loaded up my cooler with a few pints to take home, got into the driver seat of my car, and unexpectedly burst into tears.
It took me a moment to even wrap my head around the situation… where was this upwelling of emotion coming from? Why was I suddenly feeling this overwhelming sense of vulnerability? And I realized that sitting in that particular ice cream shop thinking about my old job, my experiences over the past year, and reading that particular blog post had me feeling slightly nostalgic. And the more I cried behind my sunglasses, the more I realized that I had actually been subconsciously prepping myself for a run-in with my ex boyfriend. This revelation hit me pretty hard. What? Where did that come from? And the longer I let that marinate, the more I realized that I wasn’t quite sure if I was crying from all the suppressed and sub-conscious emotion or if I was crying because I hadn’t actually run into him. Ugh. Which of course just lead to me being really really angry with myself , and the countless of thoughts of “but I’m over this!” Overall, sitting in my car next to a cooler of Lucky Charms ice cream with tears streaming down my face, and emotions welling up from a million different directions was not how I was picturing spending my Monday. And it felt a little pathetic.
And then I decided to give myself a break. Life is so full of unexpected moments, and some of them are amazing, and some of them leave you feeling like you got hit by a bus… but I am trying to embrace those moments of vulnerability, rather than putting up a wall and trying to dam up my feelings. Because it wasn’t just one thing. It was remembering where I was a year ago, it was thinking about nasty unemployment hearings, and starting a new job, and being lonely, and filling emotional holes with ice cream. It was realizing that just last week my old boss invited me to sit down and have a glass of wine and wanted to catch up about my life. It was finally dealing with a volatile yoga client who made me feel un-safe, and standing up for myself at work, and hormones, and stress, and reading that blog and remembering that I actually met my friend and my ex at the same event, and being so thankful that I gained a friend from that situation, and yes it was partially about him, and being two blocks away from his place, knowing that it was his day off, and that running into him on the street as I was dressed like a sweaty yoga fisherwoman was a real possibility. But it was also a accumulation of all the other things, And so I just let myself feel it. Being vulnerable is hard, and taking a moment to acknowledge your feelings and observe where they stem from isn’t always easy, but I think that so much personal growth, and other amazing things can stem from these moments. Closing yourself off from vulnerability can mean closing yourself off from potential…And being nostalgic can be a good thing. It can be nice to remember things from your past, even if they aren’t things you are choosing for your future.
So I drove home, still feeling slightly ridiculous, but also feeling relieved. Relieved that I am the type of person who isn’t completely shut of from my emotions. Relieved that I can still be shaken by random moments of vulnerability, and that I can laugh at them afterwards, and really really relieved that Salt & Straw make pints of ice cream to go.