The first time I noticed a severe lack of appetite was around March in my senior year of high school. I was constantly being asked what I was going to do with my life and what my next step was going to be after graduation. Adults wanted to know where I was moving, what I was studying, and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Friends wanted to know if I was finally going to start drinking and experimenting with drugs in college (come on, Mal… It’s time). My colleagues at my retail job were hopeful that I would come back to Phoenix on breaks and continue on as though nothing had changed and I was receiving advice from everyone I encountered on making the most of my college years while balancing “fun” with “responsibility”. During this time I lived off of rice and black beans. Breakfast? Rice, black beans, and an egg. Lunch? Rice and black beans. Dinner? You guessed it. My stomach was so fragile I could barely stomach anything else. If I hadn’t been a virgin I would have certainly convinced myself that the nausea that plagued me was pregnancy-related (fuck, how will I break the news to the rents!?).
Fast forward 2 1/2 years to a slightly older, slightly wiser Malori braving 21 credit hours of coursework, a part time internship, and a part time job on the way to graduation from college. I was feeling bold and terrified. I was feeling bitter about an impending move back to the state I had so successfully escaped when I graduated high school. I was facing the end of a relationship with someone who had never really cared about me but was breaking my heart nonetheless. I was facing the end of some friendships that would not survive the distance and a surprising continuation of friendships that would. I was feeling helpless in a job search that continually turned up “no, thank you’s” and “you need more experience’s”. I found myself turning to my standby of white rice and black beans. In spite of a new version of me that was quite the “foodie”, I couldn’t stomach the burgers that had become my favorite during my time in Chicago or the delicately marinated veggies atop my favorite sandwiches. I found myself creating less involved dishes and spending time with friends in less food-related venues. I found myself eating one bite of my $14 hamburger and taking the rest home to rot in my fridge while I salivated over the idea of eating it. I was stuck in a series of hot flashes, dizziness, and a constant state of vague nausea. I was awake in the middle of the night and exhausted during the day. My body was resistant to all of the change and I felt sick constantly.
Once again, we jump forward. This time, we’re in the present. And, once again, as life changes around me I’m finding solace in my rice and black beans. I’m learning to embrace the nausea. I’m learning to love the thrill of the fall into the unknown and the new. Comfort is stifling to me and change, with all of the visceral reactions that accompany it, are starting to become necessary. I’m grateful for my rice and beans. I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned in the past 5 years that have instilled in me a frame of mind that is relatively peaceful in times of disarray. I’m comfortable with the concept of “more”. Should I fail, there is more of everything I need. If I cannot find financial stability in my new venture, there are more jobs. If I fail to fall in love, there are more men. If I fail to follow this dream, there are more. And if I am unable to find comfort in the stability of this next phase of my life, there is more rice and more black beans to guide my uneasy stomach through another tumultuous time. There is more change, more hope, more dreaming, and more life to be lived.