What is it about one small restriction that seems to encompass my life? It touches everything. From dinner time, to snack time, to leisure time, to craft time. It's not just that I can't ingest corn derivatives. I can't be around them when they are airborne. And the fact that I have this unique intolerance (which touches all sufferers in unique ways) means that I can not be a pillar. I can't be in a position of supervision because I can't be reliable. There are too many variable in life to prevent exposure completely. Which means reactions are impossible to predict, and just as impossible to ignore. Which, to put it bluntly, makes me unreliable. Not irresponsible, mind you, simply unreliable.
A corn allergy makes me different. It does separate me from the others. Go out for coffee? Sure. But I won't be drinking any. And we need to sit outside. And...hopefully the rest of the group is up for that awkwardness. Because, right or wrong, there is always some awkwardness.
Group projects are a challenge too. It seems like most work done in a group setting convenes around food. Pizza. Coffee. Yoghurt. Even donuts. You meet at a restaurant, or in a small room and bring food to break the ice.
Corn allergy, that sort of puts the chill back in the air. Sometimes, I get so used to this allergy that I forget that I'm the oddball out. I simply can't be a part of 'that' group. I have restrictions.
It's the simplest little things that fall through the cracks. And those little things are the ones discussed over popcorn in informal gatherings, or pizza after the official meeting. Little things that no one thinks are important. But they're details. And without those details, it's hard not to feel left out, as friendly and open as everyone else tries to be.
It's not intentional. I want to stress that I realize it's not intentional. (I have to tell myself not to be paranoid when these things come up) But it's usually an unexpected shock, like someone balanced a bucket of cold water over the front door and I'm the one who opened it.
Corn allergy so drastically impacts what we eat, our dining options as well as choices, that it carries over into every aspect of our lives in ways that other food allergies and even Celiac Disease do not. All food restrictions are hard, but when it comes to corn, that's when I feel really different.
And when I think about why I missed these little impromptu gatherings where details were addressed and dismissed, it's generally the corn aspect that lies at the root of things. I know from the outside I look like I'm just not interested. But the fact is, the risk just doesn't outweigh the potential bonding. I love chatting informally outdoors where I'm not assaulted by perfume or personal care products, and food fumes disperse quickly. But it's hard to get motivated to go somewhere to watch people you almost know enjoy a meal.
And it's hard not to feel like you're in the spotlight when it's the little things you don't do, that make you miss the details.
It's not a bad thing, necessarily. It's just different. Another little quirk. Quirks can be endearing, they can be overlooked. It just takes a little work. And a little more work to keep track of those teensy little details that slip through the coffee-hour cracks. And, of course, a good sense of humor to avoid letting those details get to you. (This is the part I'm struggling to keep this weekend)
Corn. It doesn't just affect our diet. It affects our lives.