10/30/2014 10:43 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Cleaning My Freezer Was Like Conducting An Archaeological Dig

Last week my mom asked if she could borrow some space in my large freezer chest to temporarily store some of her food. I said "yes," but I don't think either of us realized the challenge that her request would create for me.

Cleaning out my freezer was like conducting a small-scale archaeological dig. As I scraped and prodded my way through the ice and frozen condensation, I began to notice that the 4' x 2' x 3' chest contained a frozen history of my dietary and shopping habits over the past decade. Similar to geological strata, there were clear delineations in the ice layers, marking the different phases of my family's life.

From the bottom to the top:

1. The Ice Age--I am almost certain that a bag of tamales and a bag of corn are stuck to the bottom of the freezer. However, since they are immovable and almost completely covered with ice and frost, I can't be sure. It is also quite possible that the top layer of my wedding cake is buried next to them. Whatever is down there will likely remain frozen for the next forty years.

2. The Vegan Phase--That ambitious month five years ago when I shopped at Whole Foods and stocked up on veggie burgers, tofu nuggets, and soy ice cream sandwiches (and never ate any of them).

3. The Popsicle Phase- That school year when each member of the family had a stomach virus three horrific times. Most of treats have been disfigured by being melted and re-frozen over and over again. "Remember to close the freezer!" became my mantra. But no one ever listened.

4. The Leftovers Phase- That period of time when I regularly filled large plastic containers with unpopular, slop-like dinners and placed them in the freezer to assuage my people-in-other-countries-are-starving guilt. "Someday, someone else might eat this."

5. The Hopeful Baker Phase-This period lasted for quite some time, as evidenced by the 65 black bananas I pulled from the various strata in the freezer. I could make banana bread for my whole neighborhood! But I wouldn't count on it.

6. The Smoothie Phase- The year when I bought a bag of frozen fruit every time I went to Costco. Frozen mangos, frozen raspberries, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries--you name the fruit, I bought it (and never made any smoothies).


7. Current Day (stuff on top): Dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, and a bottle of Ketel One vodka. (I have grown more realistic over time.) And then of course, my mom's stuff.

My freezer, now cleaned--well, mostly--of its history, is now ready to record the exciting future phases of our lives! In fact, I just threw in a brand new bunch of black bananas. Some things never change.