What can we say about 2020? It has really been a year! Some have seen greatness, others sadness. Some people have experienced both. Like many others, I’ve experienced the same roller coaster of emotions. What I didn’t expect was a moment of enlightenment.
On Thanksgiving Eve, my youngest son and I spent hours cleaning, rearranging furniture, and preparing delicious goodies for our upcoming feast. The next morning, I started the turkey in the roaster, peeled potatoes, and continued the typical Thanksgiving traditions of many American families. Ten family members, including myself, per the Governor’s mandate, sat down to Thanksgiving dinner. Always the most excited for food—really, ask anyone—I took my first bite. It wasn’t what I expected. I took my second bite. My partner to my right asked, “What’s wrong?” The look on my face must have been worrisome. I quickly took bites of the remaining items on my plate. Nothing. I could taste nothing.
The next morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. Now, this is not your typical political or scientific article revolving around the pandemic. This is not a warning of health risks or mandates. This is much more. I lost my taste and smell on Thanksgiving Day. I have not regained those senses. Yes, I know, it has only been a few weeks and so many have experienced symptoms worse than mine. But wait…
When you lose your sense of taste, your brain tries to trick you. You think you can taste it, when, in fact, you are only “tasting” the texture. And what you find in those textures are things you would never have eaten without the taste.
Like donuts. Many people like a good, soft, sweet donut. One of my favorites, white icing and filled with raspberry jelly. But what happens when you cannot taste the sweet, sugary icing or jelly. You are left only with the texture. Ladies and gentleman, I may never eat another donut in my life. The texture of the donut itself, and its counterparts, was enough to make me sick. From the flake of the dried icing, to the thick mush of the jelly, to the dough of the bread had me turning my back on this heavenly breakfast pastry—potentially for life.
I know, I know. Get to the point. COVID made you eat healthier.
Actually, that’s totally untrue. Also, not the point.
I had an epiphany. All of a sudden, I related this donut to my life and the people in it. Sometimes, people come into your life and they, like a good donut, are appealing and desirable in their sweetness. For a short time, this person makes you feel great about your job, your relationship, your weekend plans or whatever the future holds. But take away all that goodness—their fake smile, flashy jewels, earthly promises—what are you left with? Anyone else starting to feel nauseated? Tensing up? As the layers and appeal of that donut change and evolve into something you no longer need or want. While I truly wish I could taste a good donut right now, my body is better off without it. And I’ve learned that it’s the same for some people. Those people who have hidden their disgusting texture underneath the taste of money, fame, power, and fitting in are no longer welcome in my life.
I am grateful that, so far, my experience with COVID-19 was mild compared to others and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones or experienced worse symptoms. Like everyone else, I hope an end to this pandemic comes soon. In the meantime, I am also grateful for this moment of clarity brought about by a tasteless donut. And while I hope my sense of taste returns eventually, I will be mindful in the future of texture over taste and substance over appearances. For that little bit of clarity, I am thankful.
Elisha Orsbon is currently the executive director of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce.