One of the first things we got after the fire was a small order of spices from Penzeys Spices. It was an important thing to do since it was one of the things my sister decreed we had to have to restart our household. She was right. We placed a small re-starting order. The order itself was healing as I wrote in the blog entry The Spice of Life as the Penzeys staff entered the process with us and helped us recover from the fire.
My sister first introduced me to Penzeys years ago and we have always purchased our spices and herbs from them. They are fresh and once you have the jars you can buy them in bulk so you save a lot of money. Some years we bought large bulk orders intentionally and parsed out herbs and spices to our friends and family for Christmas gifts. It was always a laborious task that made us think carefully about each person we made the spice packages for. Each gift was customized for the person. It took days to complete but it was an important way for us to connect to the person who was to receive the gift. We had to know them to know what would be the most important herbs and spices to them.
When we placed the order I chose several spice blends so we could get restarted but not overwhelmed. When the fire came I had so many herbs and spices we actually stored them in air tight containers under the guest room bed. I had collected jars and jar holders for many years so had containers for almost everything in my menagerie except for the dried peppers which were often quite large.
As the first year after the fire waned we were running out of spices and herbs. I decreed that we would not refill our jars until we were in our new house. Little did I know that here, almost another year later, we would still not have our own kitchen to hold our own spices.
A couple of months ago my spouse came home from the grocery store with oregano, basil and sage. I nearly came unglued. Ostensibly it was because they cost a great deal more than ordering them from Penzeys and that they were not as high quality or as fresh. After I got over my initial response I realized it was not about the herbs but about the internal pact I had made with myself not to order more until we could take them to our own kitchen.
Tonight I queued up a large order thinking that I needed to fulfill my promise that would order more and that we were really close to being in our own kitchen again. I reasoned that they would take some time to arrive through the mail so we might well be in the kitchen proper. I had a nagging feeling I should wait but told myself that my feeling bordered on superstition if not on trauma-driven behavior. I told myself if I could identify what the order meant psychologically I was fine.
In reality I am fine. Even if I could not pinpoint the psychological meaning of the herb and spice order I would be fine. It is silly to think that such a simple thing is representative of some deep psychological problem. It is more akin to hoping and counting on a particular gift for your birthday and assigning meaning to the gift. If you don’t get the remote control car from your Aunt you are not likely to be scared for life.
Curiously, and bordering on the superstitious, when I tried to click the “place order” on the Penzeys spices check out page it did not work. At first I thought it was the internet router here at Moms which is old and cranky. It really is old and cranky and really probably was one of the causes. I rebooted and tried again, three more times. I had to enter my credit card each time. Between the second and third tries I verified that I was indeed getting to the internet. Between the third and fourth try I promised myself that the fourth would be my last try for tonight. I checked to see that my shopping cart would be saved and moved over to write this blog. I discovered that the Penzeys site was down for maintenance when I tried to put the link from the blog to their site.
I was being superstitious. There was no cosmic intervention that prevented my credit card information from traveling, encrypted, from Houston to Wauwatosa, WI. It was mundane maintenance.
That little voice inside told me I was relived since I had jumped the gun and placed the order too soon. Herbs and spices won’t scar me for life but I know now that restocking my kitchen with herbs and spices will be a joyous occasion and be a landmark along the road to truly being home. It will only be a few weeks until the time to complete the order in my shopping cart.