In Writing

My mission was to find Thanksgiving vegetables. But there I stood, holding the kohlrabi, something I’d never willingly consume. I’d put the Swiss chard in the cart, along with the leeks and a gorgeous orange pepper, almost too pretty to eat. But I held the kohlrabi in my hands and wondered… should I get this for my ex-husband like I had so many times before?

More than a decade and a half ago, he’d lit up like a little boy at the sight of them while we were food shopping together.

“What is it?” I’d asked.

“My mother used to grow these back home,” he said. ‘Back home’ was far away but always present for him, his little Mediterranean island he’d left at age 20 to come to the states. Foods from there were something more than food to him, more like edible memories.

We brought it home. He chopped it up, sprinkled a little lemon on it. I’d grow to be annoyed with his propensity to lemon-ize everything, eventually, the way you tire of someone’s little habits when you’re exhausted of holding it together. But on that day of our first kohlrabi it just intrigued me. He ate it so happily. After that, any time I saw it at the market – it’s not a staple, so it’s not often – I’d pick it up for him and serve it alongside my bad imitation of his mother’s keftedes.

I stopped eventually, of course. Divorce has a way of interrupting culinary intimacy that way. But there it was this week, right by the beets… big, beautiful kohlrabi. I hesitated. Would it be weird to get it for him? I remembered how much he was always on the lookout for it and I put it in the cart. It had been at least 8 years since I’d bought it for him, probably more.

I was so excited to find it that I thought of driving over to his place to drop it off under the guise of visiting my children, who were with him. But it was the lead-up to Thanksgiving, too much a family time for me to drop by his house. We are mapping the post-marriage terrain by feel, figuring out what to be when you’re no longer spouses, no longer lovers, no longer enemies, more than friends, bound by the two most important humans to both of us. It is a strange and sometimes rocky land.

Can exes gift each other vegetables without being weird? It is uncharted territory. I saved it and waited for him to drop off the kids after his Thanksgiving with them, then I walked out to the car and gave them to him. As is customary, he didn’t say much. But he smiled and thanked me. And I think it was okay. For a crazy split second, I thought of inviting him in to join us for our Thanksgiving. But instead I stepped away from the car and let him drive away. But one day… who knows? Maybe I will.

I am glad he doesn’t love me any more and equally glad he doesn’t hate me anymore either. And I don’t feel either of those emotions for him. I work to find the name for what we feel for each other now.  Nameless, still unlabeled on the map, all I know is that it feels good to be in the place you find after all the passions are spent. And it feels nice to give the gifts of vegetables.

While pondering all this, I found this beautiful piece by a well-known blogger to her ex-husband on the terrain of their post-divorce life. It’s far prettier than my simple veggie tale. (Although I’ll say this for myself: at no point in my piece do I wonder about my ex’s penis). If you are a cartographer of the strange land of human relationships, as I am, it’s worth a look. Click here to read it.

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