Dangerous Compassions

special candy from England, how October feels, joke globes, my favorite people

You know, my dad was born in England.  His mom was from there, and on back.  At Christmastime, Great Nana would send us candy from England.  Those foods became delicious, special foods for us.

Smarties came in a cardboard tube you could shake and it made a sound like a rattle.  The candies were like M&Ms in shape but had different slight fruit flavors based on their colors.  But chocolate inside. 

The end of the cardboard tube was closed with a colorful plastic thing that would fit into the tube snugly.  I remember an alphabet letter inside it, like you were supposed to collect many tube ends and spell things out, but if there was a game to it, I never knew.

More recently things changed so the tube is an octagon, not round, and there’s no plastic thing, just other paper.  But it tastes the same.

McVitie’s Digestives are cookies that are made with flour like graham flour, and then one side is dipped in chocolate.  Wow, very delicious.  The surface of the chocolate isn’t just smooth–it has a texture to it, little ripples?  The taste is sweet but not too sweet.  They were treasured. 

Something about the name, you could pretend these cookies were good for you, a dessert treat that would help you digest the meal you just ate.

There were Fox Mints, which I called glacier mints.  They came in a blue bag.  The mints are clear and delicious, in a rectangular shape, with a blue wrapper.

There were Murray Mints also.  They’re also hard but have a butterines to them and a yellowish color.  How could a mint be so delicious?  Not sure.  I think Murray Mints taste better, but glacier mints are prettier.

There’s a kind of chocolate made by Cadbury–the versions were Dairy Milk, Fruit & Nut, and then one with hazelnuts.  Those were a favorite of Dad.  Oh, there was Caramel too.  The chocolate had a perfect, creamy taste, and something happened in a certain year where the ones sold in the US were made by Hershey’s with a different recipe.  So if you wanted ones actually made by Cadbury, you had to order them special from elsewhere.

Also, you couldn’t get Smarties in the US for a while–because of the red dye, I think.  But then they changed it.

Maybe there were a couple other kinds of candy, but those were the main ones.  Dad liked Allsorts too, which are liquorice in colorful forms.

Mom liked a certain gravy salt from England that Nana would bring back for her.  What is gravy salt?  I never made a meaty gravy in my life, only mushroom gravy, so I wouldn’t know.  I had a friend in college who went to England on a bike trip with his twin.  Mom wanted him to find some gravy salt, this certain kind, but I think the company folded, and my friend couldn’t find it.  But she wanted it for years.

Nana never became a US citizen, and one time when she went back to visit, there was a problem with her paperwork, and she got stuck over there.  I heard she’d lost her greencard, but maybe that was an oversimplification.

Anyway, Dad died in October three years ago.  I already thought of death in October because my friend Pat killed himself on Halloween, many years ago.  And fall, though my favorite season, does make me think of death to begin with, the winding down after summer’s excess of fruit and light.

Ming and I were at a World Market yesterday, hadn’t been to one in years.  I was looking for a little ball like a globe. 

We found the little ball.  Ming found some actual globes also, but Hawaii looked way too big.  “What are these–joke globes?” I asked Ming.  I imagined a warning–CAUTION, joke globe.  Not for navigational purposes.  For spherical amusement only.  For serious spacial needs, please consult an actual globe.

I suddenly got the idea we should buy some McVitie’s because it was October.  We could do a ritual about Dad, light a candle and cry maybe, eat special cookies, think of him as he was, how we’re doing about that. 

It was funny because we always went to World Market for the food and then looked at toys and stuff secondarily.  It was weird not to look at the food at all, almost like we were avoiding it.

So yeah, we got McVities and will eat them later this month.  If I made a list of all the things stressing me out, you would look at it with your mouth open.  You’d ask, “Laura-Marie, how could you be an actual person, walking around and doing the people things?”

I’d tell you, “I have no idea.  I guess it’s a miracle.” 

Poor Ming–yeah, my spoons evaporate so fast.  I’m surprised there isn’t a little popping sound of spoons disappearing in the air.  Pop, pop, pop.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a radical mental health meeting.  I couldn’t go in right away, sat in the minivan trying to pull myself together for twenty minutes.  Ming started the meeting, going rogue.  Then he eventually followed the agenda.  When I walked in, I asked, “How did all my favorite people get here?”

Some of us were having a hard time.  I was a one out of ten.  I took the emotional first aid kit, read the affirmation cards we’d put there–it was a set in Ming’s handwriting, dark pink extra-fine sharpie on pale green cards. 

Someone had already removed the squeezy ball.  I took the rocks out of their little plastic bag, touched them, looked at them.  I put red jasper in one hand and the greenish jasper in the other hand, held them for a long time.  It was like holding hands with a person.

At the end, I put the rocks back in their little bag, returned the cards to their little sleeve, packed everything up.  My friend handed me the squeezy ball, and I zipped the zipper.  It reminds me how manipulating physical objects can be meaningful.  Preparing the objects as I prepare myself emotionally.

Today we’re supposed to go to the pumpkin patch with some friends and their kids.  We did it last year also.  I’m thinking of the wheelbarrow, moods of children, moving through space together, when a kid takes off running.  If it’ll be a good energy day for me, walking to the pumpkin field from the entrance. 

The little boys like Ming a lot, from hiking trips.  Ming had pringles, so the kids associate him with delicious chips.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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