On Thursday morning, we pulled out of my dad's driveway in Alabama around 8:30 am to head back to Pennsylvania after a wonderful, full week with the family. We stopped at a coffee shop just before hopping on the interstate. I ordered a peppermint mocha latte and began to peruse the breakfast menu. When I saw grits listed, my decision for breakfast was made. Behind the espresso machine sat a black vat of homemade grits. Not the instant grits I buy in Pennsylvania that I microwave for 90 seconds then shove a dollop of butter into for flavor. These were full-on, homemade, Alabama grits. Slow cooked to perfection.
So imagine my surprise when I took a big bite and almost spit them out. Since I left home over twenty years ago, I haven't had homemade, slow-cooked grits. My entire adult life, my grits have come from a Quaker box. And that's how I like them now.
I pulled onto the interstate with my delicious and predictable peppermint mocha with three shots of espresso, and thought about what other tastes of mine have changed since I left Alabama twenty years ago for Atlanta. In 1991, I didn't drink coffee. In 1994, when my roommate, Jill, and I drove through the night to spend Thanksgiving with her family in Michigan, she convinced me to drink a big, plastic vat of coffee with at least ten servings of vanilla creamer in it. Now, I not only like to drink strong coffee, I drink straight espresso in their tiny cups of heaven. When I practiced law in Miami, I loved to stop at the counter across from the courthouse and grab a Cuban coffee.
When I moved to Miami for my first job, I worked six days a week. Monday through Friday were twelve hour days with six to seven hours spent in the office on Saturday. So I cherished my Sundays. I would sit on the beach and read. I devoured "The Winds of War," "Les Miserables," Neitzsche, Kafka, Kundera. I loved deep, philosophical books that challenged me and flipped my perspective, causing me to examine every bit of me. As a twenty-something, I sought my place in the world and needed to understand the layers of my relationships and beliefs before I could define my own identity and boundaries.
Now, as suburban mom, I read Jodi Picoult books, Parent magazine, and skim snippets of the news online in an attempt to remain plugged into what's going on in the rest of the world and in the sphere of my own society. I'd love to spend hours pontificating the complexity of everything around me. And its simplicity. The layers of what surrounds us. But the demands of being a responsible adult often interrupt these contemplations in their infancy. We have to instead figure out how to squeeze laundry, groceries, bills, the kids' sports, and a shower into a finite period of time. Doesn't really lend itself to Nietzsche and lying on the beach searching the stars.
As a kid, I loved Twizzlers and Twinkies. Now I love sushi and hummus. I loved soda and cheetos. Now I love broccoli and tomatoes. I loved cartoons and comics. Now I love National Geographic TV and poetry.
Tastes evolve and devolve, just as our priorities do. We redefine ourselves constantly. And the most important part of this is remaining true to our authentic selves and not allowing popular culture to dictate our interests and what is important to us. So embrace whatever is relevant, important, and defining to you. The extraneous doesn't matter.