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The Chooser

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

By Cinnamin Herring

Written January 24, 2020

Last night I dreamed I was back in high school, right on the brink of my great escape. Having been raised in a practical manner, with the necessary nurturing, I was intact. It was the kind of nurturing that aims at that. The rest was up to me - as it should be.

In the dream, I was driving fast around a sharp curve on a high freeway. Momentarily, I was with my mother folding laundry, feeling like my existence was an imposition. I heard the familiar echoes of freedom calling through the wind. Next, I was in a cafeteria ordering broccoli and asparagus. The roasted broccoli sat plump and vibrant green on a silvery metal tray. Two of the asparagus stalks were quite full and long, while a few others lay limp and spindly. I pointed to the bigger stalks, and asked to have them with some of the bright green broccoli.

“It looks perfectly delicious,” I said with wide eyes and watery mouth. However, before the server began to put the greens on my plate, she took out a large dish from a warming oven, and began removing all the beautifully prepared vegetables from the top layer of the tray, revealing an under-layer of wilted, overcooked mush. When the desirable greens were neatly arranged on a French-inspired white platter, the plump, gray-haired woman piled a small saucer high with wet, stringy remains - brown and lifeless. My heart thumped in alarming confusion as I surveyed the compost pile of misshapen matter. “May I have the ones from the top, please?” I said gently, hoping not to get on the woman’s bad side with my superior expectations.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” she said without looking up or altering her activity on my behalf. A small saucer reverberated on the steel serving counter as it settled from its abrupt transport. My eyes recoiled from the mass of spent greens, and my gut winced at the sharp pain of her words, as they carved away the remnants of my pride.

“You’re right,” I said. “I am a beggar — but I’m going to be chooser.” I paused. Yes, I whispered to myself, I’m going to be a chooser. Turning from the brown vegetables, and from the woman with the netted bun, I filled my lungs with the beauty of that fragrant idea, inhaling the aroma of my desire. Despite the empty feeling in my stomach, my heart was full of dreams and grit. My shoulders lifted themselves upward and I pulled them back to open my heart. “I am a chooser,” I said firmly as I walked home to tell my mother goodbye.

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