Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kitchen as Metaphor

My niece Cari’s mom Faye passed away over the weekend and my heart goes out to Cari and Marlene. Aliki made her first public appearance since my dad’s death on Sunday to see Leo in a Silverlake Children’s Theatre production. I float from moments of being immersed in something immersing, to being charmed by family and friends to sadly still feeling my still newish state of fatherlessness. How sad and complicated and grown up it all is. To my beautiful nieces I send my love.

Himself helped me get to the point where I have cooked a bit in my new kitchen. There are still boxes and dust but we have what we need to perform rudimentary cooking. I’ve fought a cold for days and wanted soup. The first thing I prepared was chicken soup, oy, the cliché, I loved making it and eating it. We still don’t have a fully functioning oven and lots of other things require tweaking but it is so sweet to cook and it is shameful how happy it makes me to scramble eggs or boil pasta.

Although I no longer attend weekly, I had a check up therapy session with Leslie this morning. I told her about my one week marijuana fast. I noticed when I reinstated my daily morning dose, even when experimenting with smaller and smaller doses, there were times I felt foggy and wished that I had not taken any. I talked about the Whole Foods latkes and tears episode as an example of the stress and anxiety I often experience sans pot, but noted that today I’d taken none and felt fine.

It came back to the kitchen and living for months and months with filthy boxes stacked to rafters, a constant reminder of the chaotic garbage filled mess I’ve made of my life. The journey of the last year and a half has been arduous, including losing a parent and institutionalizing another. Through at all, I chipped away literally and figuratively, at ridding my home of broken and unloved objects but it was only in the last few days, with that first pot of chicken soup, that I felt something tangible to show for it.

My parents loved me but were disappointed at my lack of beauty. I lived for so long disappointed with myself. I married a man who also grew up in a house where he was also misunderstood and his genuine gifts were overlooked. We have soldiered on for nearly twenty years and while there are still boxes of detritus to be hauled away and destroyed, we have each found value in ourselves despite our parents’ shortsightedness.

I find myself in the middle of a crippling strike which will have some serious ramifications for my already struggling little business. The kitchen is unfinished. There are boxes and little pockets of crap all through my house. All I would have wished for when I lay in my little girl bedroom on Fulton Avenue, beauty, wealth and fame, is still elusive to me at age fifty. Instead I am more wildly in love than I ever would have dreamed with a man who nurtures my intellect and faith and love, in the real sense of love. My children are handsome and gifted. My friends hold me tight and make me laugh and watch over me. My soul is burnished by heaps of loss and sadness. I can make chicken soup in my own kitchen. I am happy and perhaps some would call me superficial for attaching so much to a kitchen, but I am full and grateful and at my best.


Fionnchú said...

I hope you find as much satisfaction in your dream kitchen as I do in my den, I mean, study. Thanks for helping us both realize a bit of what we always wanted, domestically reified as well as more subtly sustained. Happy Hanukkah-- enjoy your gift that you earned. xxx me

harry said...

Yep, happy Cha-nook to the casmurphies. You, dear one, in your kitchen are both consumate artist and monk of the mudane, chopping wood (carrots) and carrying water (chicken stock).

Come fog or raw clarity, we love you.

Cari said...

I must thank you so much for taking us out to dinner while we should have been sitting shiva and feeling entirely overwhelmed... We got a chance to laugh and enjoy yours and Spuds' warmth at a wonderful pizza house that spelt "comfort" all over the place. Yes indeed, we needed comfort, and I feel so blessed we have you in our lives to comfort us with your love and humour.
By the way, mom's funky face cat is doing beautifully here with us. He acts like he owns the place, but without hostility to the others. I think I could learn something from his fabulous adjustment to his new digs.