Please note, I didn’t say I love Nabisco – I know nothing about the company, I concede that Oreo cookies are made of few natural ingredients and if consumed in massive quantities may erode one’s digestive track and certainly they can leave embarrassing clues on your teeth if you don’t wash them down with something.
I love Oreos because they don’t fall apart when you dunk them in milk. Oreos are tough, even though the stuff in the middle always stays soft (but never so soft that it falls into your glass mid-dunk). I carried two bags of Double Stuff Oreos in my suitcase when I flew to Riyadh, and not one broke (another story for another day – it was for work, and yes, I looked more than a little ridiculous in an abaya which I kept tripping over because there was no opportunity to get a normally sized one adjusted for a short woman, and blond hair poking out of a hijab didn’t help me achieve anonymity). That says less for my packing skills than it does for the cookies. I’m tellin’ you – Oreos are the unsung heroes of Cookiedom.
And I stand (ok, sit) before you today – the metaphoric Oreo. Yet somehow it doesn’t make me a hero among humankind, so please don’t view this as a flight of egoistic folly.
I’m a pretty tough cookie on the outside (get it? already the parallels begin to present themselves). Retrospectively, it took a pretty tough exterior to pick up an almost two-year old and four-year old and leave a toxic situation and have no job, no support system in the area, and no idea what the tomorrows would hold. What I had was an unbreakable belief that I was going to do right by my babies and figure the rest out later. No heroics here, just survival. And no perfect endings for there aren’t any – I made sure there was an account just to cover their therapy bills (I’m sorta kidding about this guys – there’s no account with some hidden cash in it). And at night when they were asleep, I would sit in their room just to listen to them breathe, because it allowed me to be as vulnerable as they were.
There isn’t a lot of room for the creamy filling on-the-inside when you’re working in a mega-firm either. There’s too much emphasis on the ‘mega’ and my office was the place where people came when they needed to emote, not for me to emote. Compassionate? You bet. Concerned? To a neurotic fault. Invested? To my toes. But if there needed to be a hard-core, put-your-head-down-and-just-keep-going kinda gal – I was pretty damn good at that. Fall apart? Not in front of anyone – that wasn’t part of the equation. Not because I am a woman, because law firms like the ‘play hurt persona’. They like the exterior that won’t fall apart no matter the hours, disaffection or compromised values.
And there’s definitely a need to be Oreo-like if you don’t want people to see that you have a body that is constantly fighting with itself. That’s just way too boring.
I will crack a joke (and they’re often quite good by the way), sound like Pollyanna, and never admit that I’ve lost the part of the sandwich that keeps the icing inside. Yup. Love those Oreos..Someone recently wrote me and said “you know, this is a two-way deal – you can talk to me about what’s going on with you too”. I love her dearly – and find the prospect of such disclosure so hard. I’m better in the other role, the ‘I want to see you happy role’. And you know? I’ve gotta get over this a bit – enough so that I develop enough affection for myself that I can be something other than perpetually ok. And my hunch is you do too (admit it, you’re nodding aren’t you?)
For at the end of the day, I do break like everybody else. I feel slights as much as the next person and though I rarely acknowledge it, can feel completely broken by another’s thoughtless action. Perhaps it’s why I pursue kindness so passionately, maybe that’s why I rail against communication that can be obfuscated and misunderstood – because I don’t want there to be hurt – intentional or unintentional. Petulant and childish – I know. But maybe there is something to it. I can be a tough cookie when it comes to dealing with the curve ball that can be thrown when one’s health is always compromised; when a crisis arises, I want me there; if someone needs another to have his/her back – turn around – I’m there. I have to learn that sometimes it’s important to ask someone else to have mine.
So when all is said and done…and I occasionally look at the losses or the hurts, the foul plays and the cheap shots, the downs that have to accompany the many ups – I realize that perhaps it’s time to develop an affection for another type of carb…I think at core, I am really…a Twinkie. And I think, I’m going to be ok with that, though I’ll probably have to go to the gym more often.