Finding Identity in Arugula

Leafy greens are important to me. Vegetables form a significant portion of my diet, and leafy greens are a great base for any dish. I particularly enjoy earthy, root vegetables because there’s a starchiness about them that is very satisfying. Beets reign supreme. A couple weeks ago, I enjoyed an arugula salad. I’ve been in an introspective mood lately, so naturally I extrapolated this salad into an entire mental complex that was to be studied. Instantly, I found this blog post hiding in the garden on my plate.

When I was coming into version 1 of adult Jack (I think I’m coming into v3 nowadays), my mother and I went shopping at Mall of America. I took this trip as an opportunity to reinvent and redefine the identity I presented to the world. For me, this felt like a reconciling of how I thought I should be and what I wanted to be. Fast forward to today, and I’ve found comfort in simplicity and minimalism, but this wasn’t clear back then.

We landed for lunch at CRAVE, a “sophisticated” mix of American and Japanese cuisine. CRAVE is a chain in the Twin Cities Metro, but I didn’t realize this, so I felt like I had found a unique restaurant that matched my new budding identity. Looking back, this was a foreshadowing to my twenties: a series of (probably) depressing revelations that the world isn’t THAT exciting or unique.

Naturally, arugula prompted this explosion of thought. I remember the appetizer I ate at lunch that day. It’s stuck with me through the years. A ball of arugula with goat cheese, watermelon, cracked pepper, and tangy dressing. Whenever I’m at a restaurant I deem “sophisticated”, I remember this memory. My mother encouraged me and provided the opportunity to try something new. It was fantastic!

This inspires a bittersweet mix of childhood, adulthood, the transition, and tender moments. In a single moment, I feel sadness, gratitude, and concern for the future. I hope never to lose the curiosity and courage to rediscover and redefine wherever I am in life. Next time I’m in a rut, I’ll try a different cousin of the leafy green family. Maybe that will form the new base of the next phase of life.