My appetite is gone. Poof! Whoosh! Alla Shazaam! I don’t know where she has gone, but for the last few months, I have lived without her. My food enthusiasm has not waned – I still troll food blogs, ogle food photography, and fondle fruit in the produce aisle. I read all the articles that appear in the Dining & Wine section of The New York Times. The cheese case still makes my body sing. But when the time comes to eat, I am impassive. Filet Mignon? Raclette? A piece of wheat toast spread with salted butter? I just don’t care. This bothers me.
Where has my appetite gone? Maybe, like Mayzie, my appetite has grown tired of her perch inside my egghead brain, and has flown to laze about in warmer, less turbulent climes. Maybe she is baking in the heat of the Aruban sun, where, I confess, I would love to join her. Winter has felt very long this year. It would be nice to feel warm sand under my feet, to smell coconut oil in the balmy breeze. I miss my appetite. I would rejoice to reunite with her.
I’m trying not to panic. I remember the intense sympathy I felt for Molly Birnbaum when I read her book, Season to Taste, in which she recounts losing her sense of smell. How can one have an appetite or appreciation for food without the ability to smell it? I shared her story with my husband, who responded with a tepid “Meh.” Meh? Meh?! How dreadful to live out your life in a state of “Meh”! I’m a party-like-it’s-1999 kind of girl. And yet, here I am, skipping out on meals and dodging Meh’s specter in the realm I hold most sacred.
I placate my growing sense of fear with the knowledge that I’m a first-year teacher who didn’t know she would be one until it happened. I expend a lot of creative energy in the classroom. Every single day involves intense planning for the next class… from scratch. Every day poses a new challenge, like learning a new delivery style, adapting to the moods of my students, and accepting that sometimes technology fails at the exact moment when you planned to show the perfect YouTube clip. I’m like a contestant on Chopped, an amateur trying to prove myself worthy enough to be in the League of Super Teachers.
I’ve also battled several colds since the school year began. Colds mess with appetites, right?
Though I haven’t shared this information with anyone, I suspect my friends know that something’s amiss. Plans for food-related gatherings and excursions have increased threefold since the New Year. Hostel rooms have been reserved for extended food outings in the north. Friends anonymously deliver delicious foodstuffs by cover of night. I may be lacking in cravings, but I’m not lacking in good friends. I am so grateful to have their love and support, especially now.
I can, thanks be, still appreciate the taste and flavor of good foods. I can still smile into a bowl of creamy, cheesy grits. I just can’t feel my own food mojo anymore. So I’d like to formally issue an APB. My appetite is about 5’2” and she recently cut her hair and added auburn streaks. If you happen to see her, please tell her to come back to me. I’ll be waiting right here with open arms.
© 2013 Julia Moris-Hartley