Meatloaf

I don’t think I truly had my first piece of meatloaf until my late twenties. Growing up, it was never served in the Heidbreder household, and it never sounded all that appealing (after discussing this topic with a friend, we came to the conclusion that it’s the name. It’s definitely the name). It seemed like something straight out of the 1950s, and it should have stayed there. When my Dad was little, he told his mother that the school meatloaf was better than hers, how good could it really be?

A little over a year ago, I moved in with a friend’s family for nine months. They frequently assembled for family dinners, and I got used to having home cooked meals every night. It was January at the time, and one of the dietary staples of the winter menu was meatloaf. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it or absolutely hate it, but I’m a pretty adventurous eater, so I scooped up a slice and plopped it onto my plate. After giving it a nice coating of pepper, I used my fork to cut out a piece. I lifted it to my mouth and studied it before ultimately consuming it. “Down the hatch,” I said to myself.

As it just so happens, that night began my love affair with meatloaf. A food I’d been avoiding all of my life just so happened to be absolutely delicious. I had been so repulsed by the very idea of meatloaf that I had never actually given it a fair shake. I felt stupid, but at least I finally tried it. At least I never took meatloaf completely off the table.

I could write something cheesy like, “Don’t judge a loaf by its name,” but my change in tastes isn’t exclusive to food either. The past few years, I’ve fallen in love with bands like the Counting Crows and Third Eye Blind, bands I strongly disliked during my childhood. Instead, I opted for Marilyn Manson and Prodigy, bands I still listen to every now and again. My taste in music was a little strange then, but to be fair, so was I. Some things don’t change.

It’s important to give things a chance, but I also think it’s important to reevaluate your relationships with certain things as you get older. I feel like people get to a certain age and they pull the emergency brake. They like who they are, what they’ve become, and they’re not willing to advance any further. They don’t make new friends, or put themselves in challenging or new situations, but rather, they stick with what they know, what is predictable.

I’ve been making jokes for years about being old, and more recently I’ve made jokes this year about how I need to get things done because life will be over when I turn 30, that there’ll be a sharp drop off to my overall quality and enjoyment of life, that my body will start to deteriorate. I am indeed terrified of turning 30, as birthdays are always a time of intense self-evaluation and reflection (more on that in a later post), but more than that, I feel like some people get old sooner than they have to because they’ve stopped trying to grow, and that’s what frightens me more than anything, more than my body deteriorating, is the thought that I’ll stop progressing, stop learning, stop trying to improve.

I think that there’s a balance to be struck, that you can still enjoy your own personal routine, but that you also have to sprinkle in some new things as well. That way, you expand your world and maybe you’ll find something that you’re passionate about that you never even gave any serious thought to. I really love to write, and maybe it’ll never get me anywhere in life, but at least I’m doing it, dammit.

Part of growing up, at least to me, is allowing yourself to feel new things, to do something completely out of character. I hope that I never stop aspiring to be a better and more well-rounded person because when that happens, I really do feel as though I will have gotten old. If my late grandmother can try yoga for the first time at 94 years young, I like to think that the rest of us can at the very least give meatloaf a try (metaphorically speaking).

So many of us have tried and failed when it comes to New Year’s resolutions (I am not exempt), but this year I’ve tried to do something totally new to me every month. Thus far, I’ve become more religious, gone to a Run the Jewels concert (one of my favorite bands), and I just got back from a lovely long weekend in Cuba. When I first made that my resolution, it seemed stupid and cliché, but at the very least it’s getting me out the door to do something I otherwise wouldn’t.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying don’t sleep on the loaf, or on trying new things, or on trying things you thought you didn’t like when you were younger. You might add some pepper, slather on some ketchup, and find out that it’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

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