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  • Writer's pictureAimee Williams

Chili Cheese Fries

When Chris and I started dating, we were both in high school. I was going into my junior year at Carbondale; he was going into his Senior year at Marion. In addition to being a three-sport athlete, he worked. At the time he was a cook for Sonic in Marion. Prior to our first date we’d had several phone conversations and some letters (yes, actual snail mail—yes, in 2003). Chris was scandalized to learn I had never tried chili cheese fries before. Personally, I didn’t think they sounded that amazing... On our first date we met at the movie theater for Pirates of the Caribbean. (Yes, the first one!) After the movie he took me to Sonic. He pulled something out of his duffel bag. “I made these for you,” he said. It was a dozen tin foil roses made on (clean) sonic burger wrappers. It was hilarious, creative, and sweet, all of which are good descriptors of the man, too. Next he ordered me my first order of chili cheese fries. I think he expected my worked to break open. Haha! I enjoyed them, but I don’t know that I was as obsessed as he had hoped I would be.

A few days ago, I stopped by Sonic for a fountain Dr. Pepper. My intent was get my soda before going about my day. As I got ready to order, I realized I was a little hungry. I looked over the menu, knowing my options would be slim (I’m gluten free these days). I saw chili cheese fries and thought, you know what? I think I’ll do that today. After my order came I decided to go out to the grave to eat them. I’ve not been out there in months, but it felt like a good time.

I sat there over Chris’ remains, eating my snack and thinking about us. I thought about our early days of dating and how unsure I was in myself while also so sure of him. The teen years are not easy.

I started contemplating, “Who was Aimee, the girl of seventeen?” Sure, she was me. She’s integrated into my existence, but I’m no longer her, not really. That’s been half my life ago. Wow. Puts it into perspective differently when I say it like that...

I know I was typically happiest when I was caring for babies or toddlers. I knew I wanted to go to college but I was also really excited for motherhood when the time came. I loved reading—an 800 page novel could see its downfall in 2 or 3 days on summer break! Being a vocalist was an integral part of how I identified myself at the time. I lived for jazz choir and you knew I was having a good day if I was singing while doing boring activities around the house. I loved meeting new people and traveling to far new places. At seventeen, though? I had much less grace for others— a lot more judgment. The edges of my personality needed a lot of polishing. My world was far more black and white. “The rules are the rules are the rules.” Now that I have lived twice as long and experienced a lot more, my edges have softened. I give grace. I am far slower to judge and far quicker to listen. I need to hear the perspectives of those who are different than me.

I understand that rules are in place for a reason but also need to be viewed with a critical eye, not just blindly followed. I know that while there is Truth in this world, there are many situations that cannot be defined as a simple black or white. Most of existence lies somewhere within the gray trying to make the best decisions we can. All these deep thoughts are brought to you by an order of chili cheese fries. 🍟

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