Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Pretzel

I never realized how much a pretzel could bring me back to my childhood. But sure enough, a giant, warm, salty, Target Soft Pretzel did just the trick.

And it happened when I was least expecting it.

Our weekend was spent mostly in the living room, watching Season 1 of “Mad Men”. Apparently My Other Half has developed an appreciation for the series; though I had no objection to curling up with him on the couch.

The new couch.


(We're still on Cloud 9, not that anyone could tell - right?)

And while I hate to admit it, the series has grown on me as well. Character interactions and development, costumes and art, and the amount of booze consumed only scratch the surface. The most interesting thing in my opinion, is the use of props. The lighting of a cigarette, a fly trapped in a light fixture, and lead role Don Draper’s hair (oiled or not), convey far more than the written word.

But I digress.

Earlier today I headed out for my swim, my only workout for the day. And while it feels slightly odd to only be working out for 60 minutes on a Sunday, I’ve found that I don’t mind all that much. This season has been all about learning, nay – finding myself. And I’ve realized that I don’t have to be training for a national or world championship event to feel good about myself or to justify my place in this sport.

Sometimes you just do something – swimming, biking, and running – because you love doing it. Not because you have to compete at a very high level. And before this accident, I don’t think I realized that.

But that’s a different post all together.

I will say, however, that I will be doing a few sprint races this season – nothing huge. Just back to the basics, and more importantly a return to fun. I’m doing them because I want to, not because I feel that I have to. And that has made all the difference in the world.

And as such, I’ve found that working out (again) has become much more fun. (I need to give a huge thank you to Danielle “Pendergraham”, my South Carolina Soul Sister Ashley Long, and Uber Coach Jen for helping me along this path of self-discovery). So while it would be sort-of nice to have more on my Sunday schedule, I was okay with my swim. (I'm still a bit conflicted - I feel like I should be doing more training wise. But I also recognize that's the IM training mindset that I had pre-crash.)

Back to my swim today. It was a bunch of 50s, a few 100s, and a heckuva lot of IM work.

If you were at the UWF pool this afternoon, you’ll know that the monsoon-like wave crashing over the pool deck was me, attempting to swim fly “fast”, Because not only was it on my workout to swim fly, drill fly, and swim slow fly. But I was also supposed to swim fly fast. (Say that five times – I dare you).

(whispered)And between you and me; there’s only one speed that I go when “doing” the butterfly. I just butterflop along as best as I can. I just go. Is there any other way? Really??

There is no fast, and there is definitely no slow. Trust me on that one – if I “slow” down, I sink. The only speed is that of desperation. Of getting myself – while maintaining as much dignity as possible – from one end of the pool to the other.

Post swim I returned home, showered, and raided the fridge. I’m not one to reward myself with food all that often, but completing lots of butter fly (okay, okay – it was only 100… but it was ALL in a row. That surely counts!), is certainly justifiable. The only problem; nothing suited my fancy.

So instead, I reached for the sensible, yet boring option of cheerios and milk. And settled with the bowl on the couch. Very carefully I might add. (We're still waiting for the dining room set to arrive. It's currently on backorder.)

After wolfing down the cereal, I found myself again in front of the fridge, contemplating my options. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was calling my name. And its not like I had been eating all day, quite the contrary. I have a hard time swimming if I've got a lot in my stomach. Something about flip turns with any sort of sustenance makes me slightly queesey.

I just didn’t know what I wanted. Finally – in a desperate attempt at satisfying both my sweet and salty craving – I settled on the Sweet Mini Gherkins.

And that’s exactly how Nathaniel found my when he walked in :20 later – fork in one hand, jar of sweet pickles in the other, and standing in the middle of the kitchen with a slightly guilty look on my face. The open fridge in the back ground set the scene perfectly.

“You must be hungry!”

I only nodded. My helicopter flying-husband was a master of the obvious. But I didn’t think he would appreciate a snarky response. I know that I wouldn’t. And besides, it was my deal – the fact that I couldn’t figure out what exactly I wanted, not his. So I kept my mouth shut, instead focused on the sweet crunch of half the pickle, while the other half balanced fastidiously on the end of the fork.

And then, he did something that made my day.

“Look!” he exclaimed, plopping something down on the counter. “It’s a salty treat! I saw this at Target, and I thought of you. Every time we walk in, you tell the story of how much you love Target soft pretzels. Of how your Mom would get them for you sometimes. And I just figured you would like it.”

And, as if by magic, I was launched into my past.

It’s true: as a little girl accompanying my Mom to Target, we would occasionally stop at the snack counter. And I would always go for the salty soft pretzels. The non-salty kind just weren't as good. Occasionally I would add cheese, but usually not. I would pull apart the pretzel, bit by bit, enjoying the savory salt while we walked up and down the isles.

Now, whenever I walk into Target, no matter if it’s North Carolina, California, Florida, or any other place we’ve been stationed, I think of shopping at the St. Paul Midway Target with my Mom. The smell of pretzels and the concession counter pop corn brings me back.

“Do you like it?” Nathaniel’s question snapped me back into reality.

I nodded enthusiastically, managing to get out between bits “Sweetheart!” chomp chomp chomp, "it's wunderbargain!" chomp chomp chomp. Chomp.

Had the man given me diamond earrings, I don’t think my reaction would have been quite as enthusiastic.

A Zipp disc on the other hand…tough call.

And within a matter of seconds, my craving was placated while enjoying the still-warm pretzel with its large crystals of salt.

Sometimes you have cravings for certain things – I don’t think mine was just about food today. I was bored looking into the fridge – unsure about what to eat, and waiting for Nathaniel to return so we could finish our series.

The Target Pretzel, as yummy and delicious (and thoughtful – way to go Nathaniel!) as it was, reminded me of some of the great times that I had growing up. I suppose there’s a reason why even to this day, I still enjoy wandering the isles of Target. It is familiar, it is friendly, and it is associated with happy memories with my Mom and sister.

The pretzel just stirred up some of those happy memories.

So next time I walk into Target, I’ll not only remember my childhood, but I’ll remember how great Nathaniel is as well. Funny how something so simple as a soft pretzel can do that. And it makes me wonder about what other memories are lurking around the corner, just waiting to be recalled. Hopefully good ones – peanut butter and chocolate anyone?


Pedergraham said...

How can we not have a Target in Vermont? I can't believe that Target is old enough that you went there when you were a little girl. The first time I ever went to Target was 5 years ago. (I really feel like a country bumpkin now!)
Good job with the fly. (No one says it has to be pretty, right?)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I am thinking the same thing - I didn't see a Target until I was an adult- BUT you grew up in the HQ of Target up in MN, so that is probably why! I love those little treats that take us back to our childhood. Peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches, which my mom made for me all the time. PB Capn Crunch cereal, Entemmens Chocolate donuts (do you see a pattern here) take me back! :) Glad you enjoyed your pretzel. I find myself ALL TOO MANY TIMES opening the fridge and not finding anything I want ALOT! Jen H. :)

TriGirl Kate O said...

When I was growing up, my Mom made us shop at KMart--there was no mart of the Wal or Target. What a deprived childhood I had.

Beth said...

You and O would really get along!! Every time we go to Target or Sams Club he buys himself a soft pretzel. And then he eats it in like 3 seconds. :)

Love the new furniture Marit - it looks great!! And thanks for your comment re: my race on Saturday. Truly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I love food like that!!! Also, I too hadn't even heard of Target until like 4-5 years ago.

i don't have any desire to do an ironman, i never have, and I never will. There's nothing wrong with that, just do the stuff the fires you up!

Anonymous said...

Target and SOFT PRETZELS with lots of salt. Going to Target was so much fun - even though a person went in to get toothpaste and ended up spending $104.00 - and you, Marit, were the best shopper - always weighing all options before you bought anthying, anything but the snack - that was always a done deal, the one and only
and you ate it so s l o w l y and savored every little bite. What fun that was - thank you for the memory
Love Mom

Kellye Mills said...

Ah... that is so sweet that he brought that to you! What a wonderful, nice surprise!