In having a conversation with my cousin, I told her it is time for me to move to a new state in the next couple of years. I think it is time to go where my people are. I have long told myself, I have no people. No one like me exists. I will find someone, and we will compromise. This came across as being “lonely.” I’m not lonely. I love being alone. I love doing things by myself. As a visual artist and writer, I spend days without human contact. I will never have children (by choice), and after being in several long-term consecutive relationships, I am single for the first time in twenty years. It’s a nice break, but when the time comes, I want to find my forever. My significant other and my friends will always be my family. I get to choose this family. It’s time I make the right choices for me.
I was equating my perceived”loneliness” with a food analogy. I have long wanted to try vegan tiramisu. The dairy version of tiramisu is a dessert from Italy made of ladyfingers, mascarpone and espresso. I had it when I was a traveling vegetarian. It is decadent and rich. It is a soft melting cake-like substance with the kick of espresso. Any time I’m in the mood for vegan tiramisu (I’m just going to call it tiramisu to simplify), I know I won’t be able to find it here. Instead of completely depriving myself of all things sweet, I tell myself to compromise. Well-meaning people repeatedly say, “Well, just try these sardines. I promise, all you need are some sardines, and you won’t even think about tiramisu anymore.”* Even when I ate meat, I never ate sardines. I have never liked fish. Yet, co-workers and acquaintances try to convince me, “You can put sardines on your pizza! You can eat them on a salad. You can eat them on a bagel. Try them! You’re really missing out!” They tell me this because they love sardines. They are sure what makes them happy will make me happy. They cannot imagine a world without sardines. I know I don’t want sardines. On any planet. Ever. I have let myself believe for far too long that I will never have vegan tiramisu. I had accepted that, but I was willing to look for something close.
When I met my ex-boyfriend, he had some every sardine-esque traits. I was willing to believe that not all sardines are created the same. I was naive. I knew we were 95% wrong for each other, but there was 5% that was oh-so-right. He was still discovering himself, and that meant the electric 5% could increase. Maybe I was naive to think it could have ever became a significant enough percentage, but I had heard of opposites attracting. I didn’t want to think of love in percentages. Plus, that 5% was intoxicating enough I was willing to gamble. I never expected him to become vegan tiramisu. I would have settled for ice cream or donuts. I told myself I could live my whole life without tiramisu if I had ice cream from time to time. For ten years he struggled against his oily sardine-nature. Though he swore he was never going to be a sardine, it’s hard to become anything else when all you’ve known your whole life are other sardines. Today he lives in a tin can with others like him.
I know there is vegan tiramisu in the world. Even here in the U.S. I’m just not going to find it here. But let me repeat this, I know it exists. I have seen it online. There are places where it is made vegan by multiple bakers. f I don’t like the way one shop makes it, I can go to the next. There are options! I will no longer try to turn sardines into tiramisu or even ice cream or donuts. And even then, I want my friends to be the ice cream and donuts. I want my forever to be the tiramisu. And now I know I am the one responsible for making that happen.
*I know this story is rife with problems. Sardines are supposed to be good for you, while tiramisu is not. I chose two foods based not on nutritional values but based on my likes and dislikes. I have nothing against sardines, I just think they are best left in the sea. And no, you don’t have to be vegan to get this. Just insert your own food preferences! It could be wanting to have pizza when the world is full of Brussels Sprouts (both of which I actually love!) Tori Amos perhaps did it more eloquently with raisins and cornflakes in the song “Cornflake Girl.”