I’m not even 30.
Those truths hit home Friday, when I decided to draw pony-racing chalk lines for our preschool carnival.
Every year, the preschool where I work hosts an outdoor celebration filled with sweet little booths and child-friendly games. For the second year in a row, my colleague and I volunteered to staff a hobby horse race. The children grab a play horse and race each other a few yards down our asphalt parking lot, around a traffic cone, then back to the starting line.
They sometimes get lost and veer into one another’s space (or just take off toward the playground).
To guide them, I grabbed a handful of sidewalk chalk, bent over at the waist and drew red and yellow lines for the little ones to follow. I drew them straight-kneed and walking backward. I drew them twice.
Then I stood up.
I’m not 20 anymore.
I’m not 30.
Apparently, I’m not even 40.
Something pinged in my lower back, and sciatic nerve pain rumbled up and down my right leg. Both legs went trembly and numb every time I bent over. Lying down created a cold, searing pain, which kept me up and groaning most of Friday night.
This is not normal. Years of ballet and yoga have made contortion my competitive sport. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that I’m the woman you hate in yoga class: The one who ignores the teacher’s directive to “put all competitive thoughts behind you.”
Yeah, right, I think. Watch this svarga dvijasana.
But now, karma has caught me. I can’t downward dog without shooting pain, never mind strike a bird-of-paradise pose. On Saturday, I couldn’t even stand long enough to cook dinner.
My family extends no sympathy.
“You’re not 20 anymore,” my husband said.
“What’s for dinner?” my youngest whined.
Something easy, I decided. Something I could thaw, throw in a bowl and ignore until dinnertime.
This was the perfect dish:
A cumin- and lime-doused salad of shrimp, fire-roasted corn, scallions and romaine. It took just a few painful minutes to saute the shrimp; I assembled the rest of the meal sitting down.
Sunday morning, I felt much better. Sunday night, I could maneuver myself into downward dog without yelping.
By now, I could probably make this salad standing up.
But why? As the universe has shown me, I’m not 20 anymore.
Shrimp & Corn Salad
This full-meal salad is based on a 19-year-old recipe from Bon Appetit. I’ve changed it up over the years — nixing the black beans and time-intensive shucking of fresh corn. Make it with whatever veggies you have on hand.
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 12-ounce package of frozen, raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed
- 1 small package Trader Joe’s fire-roasted corn, thawed and drained
- 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion slices, soaked in ice water to remove their bite
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Tortilla chips (optional)
Whisk the lime juice, olive oil and cumin in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then taste for balance. Add more lime juice or olive oil if desired.
Drain the thawed shrimp. Toss it with 2 tablespoons of the cumin-lime dressing.
Glaze a saute pan with olive oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil glistens, add the shrimp. Saute until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan to stop cooking.
Place the corn, lettuce, tomatoes, scallions and red onion in a large bowl. Toss with the remaining dressing.
Place the shrimp atop the vegetables. Nestle the lime wedges around your bowl. Serve immediately, with tortilla chips if desired.