When we put out a call for stories about about food and independence for this month’s Inviting Writing series, we weren’t expecting such drama in real life! Last week we read about a dark-of-night battle (with a pig) for control of a farm. Today Sara Davis shares a bloody tale of a hard-won lesson in independence.
Davis is a an English PhD student in Philadelphia writing a dissertation about food scenes in contemporary literature. She blogs at Scenes of Eating: Reading Foods and Consuming Culture.
An Aesop’s Fable of Independence
By Sara Davis
When I relocated to Philadelphia for grad school, I moved thousands of miles away from family, friends, a city I loved and everything I knew. My mother helped me move to my new apartment and unpack all the things from my previous life: furniture I’d had since college, pounds and pounds of books, and going-away gifts from friends. One of these was a nice, shiny set of Cutco knives gifted to me from a friend who worked for that company. I’d been the resident cook in my peer group but didn’t have many nice tools, so it was a thoughtful and appropriate gift. This considerate friend is not to blame for what follows!
The evening after my mother left, I settled down to my new life alone in a strange city. I put on a movie and started to make myself dinner. With the noise of a familiar film in the background, I fell into a comfortable rhythm cutting chicken into small pieces for the skillet. Without thinking, I glanced over my shoulder at the screen—and sliced off the tip of my thumb.
It didn’t hurt right away, so I sat down to think about what I knew about first aid. (Not much.) I didn’t have health insurance, and I didn’t have enough supplies in my brand new apartment to tape myself up, so I wrapped a towel around my hand and walked to Rite-Aid. My first meal alone was delayed due to an unexpected test of survival skills.
After a month or two, the tip of my thumb grew back. I’d cut past the white edge of my thumbnail, but in time my thumb regained its domed shape and the whorl of my thumbprint. My new thumb is composed mostly of scar tissue: It’s tough, less flexible and acts as a built-in defense against any future slips of the blade. In other words: an Aesop-level allegory for independence acquired the hard way!