Sunday, May 6

The Big Green Bowl

I was washing dishes. Something it seems I am always doing. And side note here: why is there a magnetic attraction between a newly emptied, clean sink and newly dirtied dishes? I'm fairly sure that the Evil Dirty Dish Force is out there, whispering throughout the house, "Mom just finished all the dishes! Quick! Dirty another one! The sink must not get lonely!"

But I digress.

So, in the midst of my dish-doing, I was absentmindedly washing something I use every day. The Big Green Bowl. Now, this baby is a monster. I have no idea where I actually got it. I think it was part of some elaborate slap-on special at the Bodegona (Definition: A slap-on special is when two items which are remarkably disimilar are slapped together with tape and sold as a hey-buy-this-thing-you-need-and-get-something-you-don't-need-at-all gimmick. The best example I can give is dish soap slapped together with refried black beans). So. I have owned this bowl for the four years I've lived here, and it started out as a sink substitute. Our house had a small, single sink, so I'd wash the dishes in one and then stick them in the bowl to rinse. Then, it got promoted. It became my disinfecting bowl.

Waaaiiit...maybe I should explain, in the rare chance that not everyone has a disinfecting bowl. You see, the good news is that we can buy amazing, beautiful, inexpensive, deliciously ripe produce every week from our mercado (market). The bad news? Well, let's just say that I've seen all manner of rodent, insect and reptile crawling all over said produce in the market. One time I saw an iguana in the fruit. Yep. Not even kidding. So, because of that, and because of the fertilization used (a.k.a manure) and the less than sanitary methods of transporting the produce, there is a huge risk of parasites being transmitted. Everything we buy has to be more than just rinsed off, a la Publix. First, I use water to rinse the especially dirty things, like herbs, and then I use filtered water and some sort of liquid cleaner to soak the veggies or fruit. I've done this for 4 years, and while it might not sound like a big deal, it can make cooking dinner a challenge.

I'll spare you the details of the treks to refill the water filter, the frustration when the water goes out, the way I'll just skip a recipe if it calls for too many herbs/ingredients to disinfect, but it is fair to say that this Big Green Bowl (BGB) has heard many a word of anger and angst coming from my lips over the years. It has been filled and refilled and dropped and cleaned and had more than one unwelcome insect fished out of it.

So, in my dishwashing moment the other day, I thought..."I can FINALLY get rid of this bowl! I'll be able to go to the store and just buy something to eat and wipe it off, or rinse it off and plop it in my dinner!" I was euphoric! Visions of driving my car over BGB, burning it (does plastic burn well? nevermind), dancing around it and burying it in the depths of the trash raced through my mind! Yes. I admit I might have extraordinarily strong feelings on the matter. But. But....

I paused. Maybe...maybe....

Maybe I should keep it.

Maybe I should. Because the thing is, I don't want to forget. I want to remember how it feels to work hard for my family's dinner, to think about where the food came from and how there are people who grow it who have so much less than I.

I want to remember, as I traverse the beautifully laid out produce aisles of Trader Joe's, that there was a day when I pushed through crowds of people and walked over not clean, tiled floors, but rotting produce and trash in order to buy my food.

When a sweet friend asked me today, "What can I pray about for you, heading back to the States?" I didn't even have to stop and think about it. I knew. It was that I will remember. That my kids will remember. That we won't just slip back into the "American dream," but we will be forever humbled and grateful and changed by what we have seen.

So I think I'll keep that stupid bowl. Because with that sitting in my kitchen there is a constant, tangible reminder of the things I hope never to forget. It will look right at home next to those dirty dishes.