I moved from Los Angeles to Burlington, Vermont when I was eighteen years old. I decided, with all of my eighteen years of wisdom, that I didn’t want to rush off to college, and that instead… I would rush off to scoop ice cream for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in Vermont.
From my bedroom, safe within the walls of my parents’ house, I was so certain of so many things. I would sit on my bed at night and pat myself on the back for the courage innate in my decision to move across the country. I felt bold and sure. It’s so easy to be bold and sure when you’re parents are sitting in the next room.
I packed my bags, boarded a plane to New Hampshire, boarded a bus to Vermont, put my feet on the ground and proceeded to f.r.e.a.k o.u.t. My parents weren’t in the next room. I wasn’t surrounded by a binding support system. What do you mean I have to pay my own light bills!? This is thoroughly confusing and 100% terrifying.
Shortly after landing in Vermont, my trusty eighteen years of experience quickly began to falter. Obviously.
A new friend was kind enough to let me stay in her small and charming Burlington apartment while she stayed with her girlfriend. She gave me a key, a tour of her collection of Dave Matthews and Ella Fitzgerald CDs and I closed the door on the big scary world I felt totally ill-prepared for.
Over the course of a week in my new surroundings I didn’t leave the house. Not once. Nope! Are you kidding? Outside was filled with strangers! Instead of exploring, I ate every last bit of food my host had in her cabinets. She had just gone apple picking, I remember. If she was hoping to make apple sauce upon her return, she was sore out of luck.
I ate a lot of apples. I took a lot of baths. I listened to waaaay too much Dave Matthews Band. I searched for that bravery I had previously been so proud of.
I found that courage eventually… mostly because I had only eaten apples for a week and I needed a sandwich. Hunger drove me out. Stepping off the porch and into the streets of Burlington felt big. Like I was alone in a thing and I had to learn how to make it work… and also manage figure out how to learn some things and have some fun.
With the thirty-two years of experience I have now, stepping out of the door in a new place isn’t as hard. It’s mostly dang exciting. Thank goodness years come with little bits of wisdom.
Still though… a few days ago I found myself hibernating here in New Orleans. For a few moments I could feel the strangeness of the ground below my feet. I understand that feeling now and try to make it more energizing than frightening.
All of this is to say that, in the strangeness… when I was trying to find my courage over my fear, I reached for a jar and stirred two things together. Sometimes the small things help to distract the mind.
Megan Gordon has some wonderfully simple instructions for infused honey in her new book Whole Grain Mornings. I reached for a vanilla bean and a jar of honey and this is the culmination of those efforts.
Small and big. It’s all allowed.