I was planning to take a few weeks away from writing as much so I could catch up on some other projects like grading for my 5-week summer intensive queer theory class. However, sometimes there are these priceless moments you just have to share, especially when the parties involved tell you they can see it now, the title, the words, and the images. When those moments happen, you know you just have to take a few minutes to share the story and reflect on the message.
It started as a conversation about why my friend was having trouble working on her soul collage she was supposed to work on as part of her 28 week spiritual and life cleansing program. Her reason for not working on it was that all the pictures and quotes she had were old and so what good was it going to do to put old stuff on a board. It was all old stuff. As I listened to her talk, I found myself giggling inside. Then I asked her if she had tried the casserole I made for dinner and if she had liked it. She had tried it and liked it. Then the lesson began.
There is an old school sandwich called a tuna melt. It is a grilled cheese sandwich with tuna salad in it. I make them in our home all the time. It happened that on this night I had made a tuna melt for dinner, but not in the usual format. I had taken all my old tuna melt ingredients – onions, tuna, and cheese and then added a few other old ingredients – Bisquick, milk, and eggs.
With these old ingredients, I created something new. I put the old ingredients, tuna, sautéed onions, and cheese on the bottom of a cake pan and then covered it with a mixture of eggs, milk, and Bisquick and let it bake, sprinkling it with more cheese towards the end.
It was a compilation of old ingredients, however, when compiled in this way created a new taste, texture, and way of experiencing a tuna melt. This was why my friend said, “I was done the minute you said Bisquick.” So often, we look at old ingredients and think there is nothing new that can come from this. However, sometimes when we bring those old ingredients together in a new way (i.e. a collage) they can reveal new messages and understandings about life that we could not see in looking at them individually or in the way we were used to seeing them.
Sometimes we need to let go of what we think we know, the way we have always done things, read things, experienced things and open ourselves up to experiencing them in new and different ways. Growing up, most of the time we had tuna salad sandwiches on white bread. Then one day my mom introduced me to tuna melts and I was hooked. But then one day, oh and my mouth still waters over these, she took those tuna melt sandwiches and before grilling them, dipped them in beaten eggs and then made French fried tuna melt sandwiches. What I had done that night was to build on the skill my mother had given me – take your old ingredients and allow them to reveal new messages to you throughout your life.
This day it was a tuna melt casserole which was an example of old ingredients teaching new tricks, another day it was my grilled taco melt sandwich with cheddar cheese, taco meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives, salsa and sour cream on sourdough bread. Who knows maybe tomorrow, I will take Rodney Henry’s advice and do this tuna melt casserole pie style and we will have a tuna melt pie. The lesson is not so much the food, but the importance of being open to the new messages that old things in our life can reveal.