The Broadway Show Waitress, was a trip through tears, laughter, joy, heartache, unfulfilled dreams, and expectations… all rolled into the journey of three friends and fellow waitresses who work in a diner known for it’s pies. Created by Jenna, these pies are not “just pies” but symbols of what is going on in their makers’ life and then aptly named for those moments. The pies are ones of sweetness at times, at others when Jenna is deeply dissatisfied by her loveless marriage and “going no where life”, they are filled with bitter ingredients. My daughter, husband and I, took the show all in, laughed, cried and enjoyed every word of the lyrics penned by Sarah Bareilles. She Used to be Mine, is a song of deep emotion that so many women can relate to that it brings chills to the listener. This was the kind of show that when you left the theatre, you were thinking deeply about what you had just seen. It was also the kind of show that gave me a flashback to a contest that inspired me to put pen to paper and write, for the first time since my college years, oh and my every now and then Christmas update letter.
I found the contest in 2011 while reading Jo Packham’s publication, Where Women Create. It was a publication that was new to me and one that was discovered while on my exploration of beginning my creative business. It was a publication that inspired me to no end and continues to do so. If you are of the mindset where you want to reach beyond your own limitations, be they self imposed or otherwise and find your own inner creative, this is the publication for you. Jo was putting on an event called The Creative Connection, where creatives were coming together to present on all arenas of a creative business. I sorely wanted to attend. It was a crazy phase of life though that we were all immersed in, being that the youngest of our five children was 10 and my oldest 20. Our middle son had just been diagnosed with an obscure illness as I was putting together all the pieces of opening up my new business. Our only daughter and first to leave the nest was taking off for college. Life was fraught with an overabundance of up and down emotions and many days, I went to bed hoping that I could stop this ride… to exit. There was no way I could sign up for that three day event. I then saw the Contest…
Pietopia 2011…What does your life look like in a pie???
Such an enticing question.
Perhaps it was the idea that I would have an excuse to use the written word to work through some of my emotions that I was experiencing, perhaps it was the allure of possibly winning and the desire to attend this event that caused me to think in my head that if I won…I would HAVE to attend and would make no excuses why I could not…Whatever the case was, I spent a fair amount of time researching the perfect recipe that embodied all the nuances of my life at that very moment. The difficult part of this was that you had to submit a recipe with the pie. I am not a consummate baker so making up a recipe that was tasty and intruiging was out of the question. I perused recipes online, in my recipe files and at the bookstore, for Barnes and Noble was a favorite haunt of ours and we paid it a visit at least once a week, all of us. The most important part of this search were the ingredients of the pie. Heck there were so many emotions going on in my life on any given day that this recipe would have to have deep contradictory flavors going on to reflect them! We all know that there are certain times in life when one can feel overwhelmed by life and the emotions that life generates… and this was one of those times.
After quite the searching…I finally found a recipe that could represent what my life tasted like in a pie…are you on the edge of your seat yet?
A Green Tomato Cranberry Pie with a Cornmeal Crust!!! It was perfect!
THE GREEN TOMATO
This ingredient was so fitting for it is a fruit that is not ripe yet. It has not reached its full potential, yet it has a unique taste all it’s own. It is kind of hanging around on the vine waiting to fully ripen. This little fruit represented me, being on the verge of something new, possible change and the fact that I was waiting to be enriched even further than my green tomato state. Thus far I, had grown and ripened into my green tomato, full of juicy life experiences that were both sweet and bitter at the same time but I was not done yet for I as still ripening and changing!
SWEETENED DRIED CRANBERRIES
The flavors coming out of these cranberries would certainly contradict the ones of the green tomato and that fit perfectly into what was going on in my life. They were very contradictory like my yearning to branch out beyond my mothering duties to start something that taxed other areas of my brain and that I could possibly build an identity around that was one of my own.
FIRMLY PACKED BROWN SUGAR
Wow! Was this my life right now; my role in our family was set, it was firmly packed and not very pliable in regards to my life as a wife and mother, yet it was very sweet. My mothering role which had been one of strong nurturing was changing as my children were getting older causing me to reshape that role and integrate other aspects into it.
PURE MAPLE SYRUP
Slow to poor out of bottle; like me who was holding on a bit to that mothering that I had based my role on since the birth of my children. Similar to the sticky syrup that coats the sides of the bottle that you never can seem to let loose no matter how long you hold that bottle upside down.
LEMON JUICE AND CIDER VINEGAR
These ingredients have a two fold representation. They are highly acidic which requires careful balance when added to dairy products for too much can make them curdle…how to balance my new roles that I would be taking on with the needs of my family. How many of you totally screw up your face if you were to bite into a lemon? I do! Lemon juice is way too tart for me as are some of the life altering experiences that my children have been going through. Cider vinegar is the same when swallowed plain, way to bitter to go down without some contortion of the face. Very similar to some aspects of my life right now.
CHINESE 5 SPICE POWDER
This ingredient symbolizes the spirit, energy, different personalities and fire of our 5 children, all blended together in one family to create quite a zesty group!!!
So there you have it…my life in a pie in 2011. I had found the perfect recipe that represented it. A pie with flavors that were fighting against each other but tasted delightful when mixed together and baked. They were stand alone flavors but they needed each other to work in this recipe…my life and my family. Unfortunately, the essay was never written for I ran out of time. Life happened, and there was no time to squeak out formulating my introspection into a submissible essay. The opportunity passed, the Creative Connection event happened and I sighed and said, “maybe next year.”
When the connection between the play I had just seen and this essay “research” popped into my head, I had to write this post. The song lyrics written by Sara Bareilles resonated in my head and I thought that the pie you would bake that represented you in your younger years would certainly taste different than one you would make in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and so on. The flavors would change based on your life experiences and what life had thrown at you. Can’t you see a pie that you made in your early twenties as light and fluffy, full of light ingredients, filled with ingredients that represented life to be lived? Then one that you make in your 50’s being heavier and more complex in their flavors? I think you can catch where I am going with this. Yes, you can view me as a crazy lady in this time constrained world to take the time and figure out ingredients in a pie that you are not really baking for a necessary end, but it will fulfill a need…one you might not even realize that you have. Go ahead…take the time to figure our what your life would taste like in a pie.
I leave you with the lyrics and the link to the You Tube performance of the song, She Used to be Mine, from the Broadway play, Waitress. I dare you to watch the performance without a box of tissues beside you.
Most days I don’t recognize me
That these shoes and this apron
That place and its patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It’s not easy to know
I’m not anything like I used to be
Although it’s true
I was never attention’s sweet center
I still remember that girl
She is good but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up
And baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person
And makes you believe it’s all true
And now I’ve got you
And you’re not what I asked for
If I’m honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew
Who’ll get hurt
But who learns how to toughen up when she’s bruised
And gets used by a man who can’t love
And then she’ll get stuck
And be scared of the life that’s inside her
Growing stronger each day
‘Til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes
That’s been gone but used to be mine
She is messy but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine