I took an unusually ambitious study break yesterday. I made Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato tacos with avocado and cilantro. Pretty fancy for my single-lady-life.
I felt confident and accomplished. Like a sophisticated grown-up. Not two years ago, the only edible thing to ever come out of my kitchen was a peanut butter sandwich-no jelly.
In a moment of self-congratulatory inattention, I mangled my right-hand pointer finger on my cheese grater. There was blood everywhere. The cutting board, the sink, the pepper-jack. This morning I found blood on the inside of my blender.
I had tortillas on the stovetop, sweet potatoes in a skillet and a half-carved avocado open on the counter. I swiftly wrapped my finger in a bulky papertowel (something I’ve seen my mom do 800 times in my life. It would appear this kitchen-specific clumsiness was inherited).
I spent the next thirty minutes fumbling around the kitchen, more helpless and clueless than the first time I cooked anything. I burned the sweet potatoes. I dropped black beans all over the floor. I got avocado in the tip of my ponytail. It was a total disaster.
Once I’d half assembled my pathetically unsophisticated tacos, I sat down to eat them.
Assuming the blood flow had been contained, and predicting I was going to be challenged by one-handed taco-eating, I unwrapped my finger.
Blood gushed immediately. The paper towel was soaked.
I would have to soldier on, one-handed.
I re-wrapped my finger and sat down to enjoy my tacos. My forehead was sweating, my mind plagued by my inadequacy and the wasted time of this unexpected obstacle. Digging deep in my memory to my wilderness medicine training and in hopes of stopping the bleeding, I held my right hand above my head.
I could barely squeeze the tortilla sufficiently to lift the taco off the plate. Once I had it airborne, I couldn’t imagine how I was going to get it into my mouth without releasing the contents into a waterfall-like failure.
The whole debacle was ridiculously frustrating.
When I finally finished, I slumped back into the kitchen to face the mess I’d created. I couldn’t do it. I left all the food out and every dish unwashed. Cleaning was clearly a two-handed job.
Defeated, I sat back down at my desk to keep studying.
In the stillness, I thought about my brother. Five years ago he crashed a motorcycle and paralyzed his right arm. He does everything left handed. He makes it all look effortless. He drives, he cooks, he folds laundry, wraps presents, ties his shoes. I’ve seen him move furniture, hold babies, even clap with one hand. He is remarkable. and resilient. and inspiring.
I felt humble. And a little humiliated. And immediately I was filled with deep love and admiration for him.
I felt like sending him a hand written (with my left hand) note that says: To My brother: It’s harder than it looks.
I picked up a sparkly blue ball-point and failed to even connect pen-tip to paper.
Today, my wounded finger hidden by a mickey mouse band-aid, I write this, with both hands.
To my brother: You are incredible. I love you.