Meditative Meals: Pregnant at Chipotle
 Alibi V.24 No.21 • May 21-27, 2015 

Meditative Meals

Pregnant at Chipotle

Don’t ever go to Chipotle when you’re depressed. Also don’t ever go if you’re in a really good mood. Basically, the only time it’s safe to go to Chipotle is if you’re in a meh-mood and you are only kinda hungry and it’s Mother’s Day and you’re running errands with your husband near Menaul and Louisiana.

The process of ordering food at Chipotle is very discouraging. Particularly, if you’re pregnant and your feet are swollen and you hate standing. There aren’t enough seats for the number of people in line, which only adds to the uncomfortable desperation of trying to eat there. This awkwardness is doubled by this particular location’s perpetually long line that sometimes even spills out into the outdoor patio. It’s hard to imagine why this homogenized, overpriced chain is so damn busy when we live in a place where Mexico is literally in the name. Aren’t there any other places to get a taco? Carnitas? We’re all just a bunch of dummies waiting 45 minutes to order a $9 burrito that’s a little too limey.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above Chipotle. I eat at crappy chain restaurants all the time. I find them comforting, and I appreciate their almost guaranteed ability to ration soda and syrup in the soda machines impressive. I grew up eating at Applebee’s and wearing Wal-Mart brand clothes, and no matter how many four-table fine dining restaurants I’ve enjoyed, city art openings I’ve attended or bands I’ve seen, I still feel like the clumsily tall, chain-enjoying, weirdo blond girl I grew up as.

My husband and I sit at an unnecessarily long table with barstool seats, and I adjust my changing body and growing belly to sit comfortably.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above Chipotle. I eat at crappy chain restaurants all the time

There is a man in a suit taking selfies shamelessly as he waits in line. “Good for him,” I think as I remember what it felt like to want to see a photo of myself. Carrying the combined DNA of you and your favorite person is beautiful, wild and rewarding. But it also transforms your body and your identity in ways that can be terrifying, strange and shocking. Behind him is an older woman who is staring out the north-facing window onto a crowded and busy intersection where a man who is probably paid minimum wage to wave a sign around in a gorilla costume dangerously balances himself upon the tiny slab of concrete nestled between six opposing lanes of traffic. That type of advertising is demeaning and makes my stomach feel weird. My mind begins to wander as my husband talks about possible places to pick up crib sheets. What if I was the CEO of Chipotle and I could hire the gorilla-suited man as a manager? He clearly has enthusiasm. What if Tupac really is still alive? What if everyone at this Chipotle suddenly started singing a Roy Orbison song and people never drove around in their cars high or drunk?

Whenever people scoff at chains, I worry they’re so consumed by pretense that they can’t appreciate the strange beauty of monotony. I worry that I’ll become the type of person I’ve seen on HGTV renovation shows who refuses to have any other countertop than marble and can’t see past shitty cupboards. I worry that Barefoot chardonnay will never quench my one-day insatiable and sophisticated palate. That Applebee’s and Chipotle will be forever removed from potential places to have lunch.

What is pregnancy? What does it mean to become a parent? What does it mean to be afraid of everything you’re doing. Five months pregnant and eating at Chipotle on Mother’s Day, wondering how your understanding of your identity as a woman has been shifted around, maybe even a little hijacked. So much of my life has been selfishly indulgent. A smoke here. A whisky there. Suddenly, I’m worried about parabens and which nipple cream will work the best when I breastfeed. I dip my too-limey tortilla chip into my too-limey rice and try to imagine what my child’s hands will look like when I can finally hold them. What color of hair they will have and if they’ll think too highly of themselves to enjoy a meal with me at Chipotle one day.