My father has a favorite saying that I try my best to remember when times are tough: fight back with normal life (his other favorite saying is “silliness is next to Godliness.” I try to remember that one, too). Meaning that when things are feeling impossible, one of the most healing things we can do is to try our darndest to keep on keeping on. And more than that, to try and relish all of the small and beautiful things that we’re lucky enough to have make up our “normal” lives. So, for example, when things happen that make your world feel sideways, but you are also lucky enough to live with a handsome man who will make you a stiff drink while you watch DVR’d episodes of the Mindy Project…you should let that handsome man make you a stiff drink. And then watch Mindy.
I didn’t understand why people were lined up to pay $5 for two pieces of ham on white bread. It was my first ever trip to the Apple & Pork Festival in Clinton, Illinois, and I was surprised to see dozens of adults passing up brats and ribs and tenderloins for a plain Jane ham sandwich. Just when I was about to write off the palates of Central Illinois, I passed a wooden shack with a tiny sign: “Ham House.” The door was hanging open and through plumes of smoke I could see shelves of string-tied, sliced hams. Now I understood the draw: real, fresh smoked ham. A man bearing a ham appeared, rearranged his products in the shack, and latched the door shut. He saw me snapping a few photos and asked, “get what you need?” I said yes and turned around to get in line for a sandwich.