Something I’ve been confronted with since moving out on my own is that I’m not strong enough to open a jar of pickles. This is problematic as I’ve recently taken a liking to homemade pickle hummus.
The first time I bought pickles after moving out on my own and discovering my ineptitude, I googled tricks to try to get the jar open. I tried running it under hot water then twisting again. Nothing. I tried hitting the edge of the lid against the corner of the counter, but had to stop because I was worried I’d miss and shatter the jar. I really wanted hummus, but the lid wouldn’t budge. I kept twisting until my wrist was aching, but it just wouldn’t move.
All while doing this, I was remembering a woman I used to work with who was a single mother of two. She told me that they hadn’t had ketchup in months because she wasn’t able to open the bottle, and there was no one around to help her. That ketchup bottle represented what her life had become since leaving her husband: a task she couldn’t possibly complete because she didn’t have the resources, the strength. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard.
I think of her every time I engage in battle with a pickle jar and wonder if that’s what my life is becoming, if the pickles represent all of the obstacles I can’t overcome: mental illness, getting out of retail, being terminally single etc.
Finally after all of my attempts, I tried the last option google suggested: I took a knife and stabbed the lid of the jar–which was easier than I expected. When I pulled the knife out, after the sound of scraping metal, I heard the sound of air moving. The pressure of the jar had changed, and this time when I twisted, the lid came off as if it had never put up a fight. I was the reigning champion of the pickle battle!
This has been my tactic ever since. After twisting until my wrist hurts, I get the knife out and feeling like a little bit of a failure because I can’t get it open the normal way and now I have to store the pickles with plastic wrap over the top, I stab it. However, my feelings of failure are usually forgotten in the ecstasy of my delicious hummus.
Today when I played Lady Macbeth with the pickle jar, I didn’t hear the air moving after I stabbed the lid. There was no pressure change, and the lid was still stuck.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t run it under hot water because there was a hole in the top and water would dilute the juice which I needed for my recipe, and I still didn’t trust my aim enough to hit the lid against a corner. My wrist was already sore from crocheting the day before (of course it was a stereotypical feminine task that caused my injury) and it was the most I’ve ever felt like a weak woman. I was becoming the coworker who’d gone up against the ketchup bottle and lost. I had been defeated and the jar represented my fears: my independence was obviously a sham, my mental illness would win, I would die alone, and most importantly I’d probably never have homemade pickle hummus again. Devastating.
But you know what? I really wanted pickle hummus. So I did the only thing I could think of: I kept stabbing the lid. I carved through the metal and made a hole just big enough for me to poke the knife into and pull out a slice of pickle, and then another, and another, until I had enough for my hummus.
When I was done, I looked at that pickle jar with it’s fucked up lid and it still represented my life, but in a different way.
I’ve been though a lot in these last few years. More than once I haven’t been strong enough to get the lid off the jar. I am a mentally ill single woman. I dropped out of university when I had one semester left, and I might not go back and finish. I am stuck in retail and I live in a province I hate. But I’ve kept plugging along, creating little holes that I can reach into and pull happiness out of. I can’t get the pickles the way everyone else does, the way we’re all supposed to. It takes me a little bit longer, and it’s difficult to saw through metal with a kitchen knife. When I get my pickles, I have to check them for little bits of metal, but it doesn’t matter because. In the end, I still get the pickles. I persevere.
My hummus was delicious by the way.