Feeding Time

The food immediately became too important to me.

Of course it’s delicious. Even cold, and it’s usually cold. I can only imagine the operation down in the kitchen, making three bagged meals per day for everyone in the hotel. There’s also a room service menu for those who want more or different food.

But it’s not the bounty that makes it important. It’s the timing.

In quarantine, food delivery is practically the only thing that ever happens. The only external variable. Everything else is pretty much up to you: will you read will you exercise will you work will you write will you Netflix will you bathe? That’s all up to you. But at 0700 and 1200 and 1700 you can open the door and discover a bag that’s just for you. Like an Easter Basket. You basically know what’s inside (you’ve seen the pictures of what’s coming) but will the fruit be papaya or mango or dragon fruit or watermelon? A combination? Today I got a banana. A banana. It was fascinatingly unexpected.

My entire day is structured around the food delivery. My weak ears are tuned to the crinkling of bags in the hallway. Once, a couple days ago, I opened my door at the same time a guy across the hall opened his door. My first sighting of another person’s entire face. I laughed and said hi. He looked too surprised to say anything. Mouth agape. Eyes round. Like an emoji. We both grabbed our bags and quickly closed our doors.

The first few days I devoured everything. Nearly everything. I haven’t been eating meat at home and here of course I do, except for the hot dogs that sometimes accompany breakfast. At home I live on nonfat Greek yogurt and frozen cherries and Trader Joe’s bagged salads and whole grain things topped with a can of smoked mackerel or whatever my boyfriend cooks for dinner. I’m a terrible cook and I love food but hate planning it. You’d think automatic Thai food delivery would be my kinda heaven. It kind of is. But also interestingly not. If 3 hours of aerobic activity were as automatic as the food things might be different. Then again, it’s not just the calories. It’s the obsession.

And the cravings.

Because despite the abundance there is still craving. For more coffee. For wine. The two substances I rely upon for focus and productivity. When I have writing to do in the morning, I require coffee. When I have writing or creative work to do in the evening, I pour a glass of wine. Decades ago, I also required a cigarette or two or ten.

Here I have access to a few packets of instant coffee. A couple teabags. I may request more. But I’m rationed by circumstances. And I notice myself distracted by both the absences and the arrivals of things I want to consume. And then of course also by the consuming. And by the guilt over my apparent inability to reduce what I’m given so that it doesn’t go to waste.

So I’m doing the unthinkable. I’m paying room service to substitute every day’s randomly delicious lunch thing for an order of stir fried vegetables. And I’m fasting 14 hours each day. Intermittent fasting instead of constant eating.

Right now, as I type this, there’s a bag of breakfast outside my door. I won’t open it until 0833. Because my last bite of food was at 1833 last night. Still feeding an obsession. But one that gives me an experience of intentional abstinence. Of lightness. Spaciousness. Maybe some clarity about what I truly need to be creative, productive, satisfied, Fed.