Do you want to know the BEST part of my job? Truthfully? I’m not even going to try to lie and say some bullshit like helping people. Nope. It’s not that. It’s the food.
Lord, help me, it’s the food!
My practice is nestled at the corners of 3 “cities.” Extending outward from this vantage point are rolling hills, lake communities, and vast stretches of farmland. Interspersed here and there are the furniture factories that have survived the exodus of such businesses overseas for cheaper labor. This is the epitome of rural America. Mostly white. Mostly Christian. Mostly living paycheck to paycheck. About 12 months ago, Trump signs sprung up in the lawns like wild dandelions, pretty little yellow flowers that will choke the shit out of your grass if you let them.
Some people think I’m a yankee. Where you from? You from around here? They already know the answer. I look like I could be from around here, but my nondescript accent says otherwise. I’m technically a southerner, too, if you define southernness by geographical and not cultural standards. South Florida is just about as south as you can get without falling into the ocean and as far away from southern culture as if I left the country altogether. I’m not a yankee, but I’m not a southerner, either.
It’s easy to think that anyone who would support Trump would be crazy, racist, fascist, sexist, even the devil incarnate, but I guess it’s like anything else, when you face the monsters everyday, you start to understand the motivation. They don’t seem like monsters anymore. In fact, you realize, they are not monsters at all. They are doing the best they can. They are scared. They work hard. They just want their own piece of the pie. Just like the rest of us.
Don’t get me wrong. There are monsters. Everywhere. Liberal. Conservative. Christian. Atheist. We all have the potential. We have all been monsters. We all have the capacity.
I found myself contemplating my role in such a community between mouthfuls of cranberry pecan pie on my ride home from work the other day. One of my patients brought me a piece. Homemade. I tried to wait the 40 minute care ride home, but it beckoned me from it’s place on the passenger seat. It was useless to resist. At 70mph on the interstate, I pealed back the aluminum foil covering and tore it apart piece by piece, shoving the sweet tartness into my mouth with my bare fingers.
I found the bitter cranberries to be a sharp contrast to the buttery cakey deliciousness that enveloped them. Equal parts moist and flaky, sour and savory. The red cranberries bled purple streaks and pools, lines and intersections. Occasionally my teeth would hit the speed bumps of pecans, slowing me down, and changing the landscape.
With each bite, my taste buds searched for the sweetness around the bitterness, and then the bitterness around the sweetness, never actually being able to separate them. They were juxtaposed and married to each other. They were inseparable, like siamese twins sharing different sides of the same heart.
I could joke around and say that like that cranberry pecan pie, the community in which I practice is full of sweet people with an underlying bitterness and the occasional nut, but it is so much more than that. But you know what, I think I’ll just leave it at that.