Cooking. Something that I love to do. Something that I haven’t done more than a handful of times in the past two years. When Jim died, the love of food that we shared caused a nearly cataclysmic reaction in my psyche. Food itself repulsed me and I lived for nearly six months on toast-chee crackers and Nekot cookies. I would make a grocery list and buy the ingredients to make a dish … then I would get them home, put them away and eventually, throw the stuff in the garbage after it had turned rotten in the fridge. I would buy milk and sometimes open it and sometimes not, but it always ruined. Bread molded before even a third of the loaf was gone. Each of these things, in its own way, reminded me that there weren’t enough people in the house to keep the food from ruining. I could lie and say that the thought that I could eat the food and stop being so weird never crossed my mind. It did. When I threw out food that I had let waste because for whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to cook it, it crossed my mind. When I fed nearly full loaves of bread to the dogs, it crossed my mind. When I had to open the jug of milk to pour it down the drain, it crossed my mind. But as quickly as it would cross my mind, I would put it aside to deal with later. I spoke of this anomaly many times to my mother and sister. The need to cook and the paralyzing inability to follow through. A couple of times, I would make something or other and feel great, nearly high, from the accomplishment. But the high was short-lived and it would be months before I cooked anything again.
Today, I turned a corner. A real corner. Not one that leads into another corner, but one that turns into a long straight road without obstacles. I stopped at the store, came home, put up the groceries and then cooked supper. It was not very good. It was much, even for me, who eats jalapeno peppers out of the jar, too hot. The pan seared spinach, though a beautiful visual compliment to the red tomatoes and beautifully browned chicken, was a bad idea. All in all, it was pretty nasty, but it was mine and though it lacked in too many things to mention, it wasn’t burned. It reminded me of when I tried a few years ago to ride a bike. My sister and I must have ridden 100,000 miles when we were kids and I was hoping to get back into it. I found that somewhere over the past few decades, my center of gravity has changed and balancing was no longer second nature. Though I knew how to ride a bike, I had to make some adjustments in myself to make up for the way that I had changed over time. But, it came back. Not on the first try, but eventually, I was riding like I was ten years old. Tonight taught me that I haven’t forgotten how to cook … I’m just rusty … and while the first attempt was a definite fail, I find myself thinking about how I can adjust the way I look at food to compensate for the changes that time and circumstance have made. It’s a little like riding a bike.