Something worthy of me
The recipe calls for a half cup of chopped red onion. I stand over the cutting board with the sharpest knife I could find in the drawer, carefully dicing layers of nested, tear-inducing rings.
I do not like to cook. Years of living alone have made dinnertime mostly irrelevant, because to me, the intentional preparation of food usually feels pointless unless there is someone to share it with. For me, this is the most practically difficult part of being single. You can keep your sex and companionship; I’ll mow the lawn and pay my own bills. But cook? On my own, it is very hard to justify.
But my body knows when it’s been fed well and when it’s been failed.
One night, my next-door neighbor rushed me to the E.R. when I was hit with abdominal pain so severe, I couldn’t stand. I had experienced this before (and since, to be honest), but this particular time, adrenaline caused my limbs to convulse; I truly thought I was having a seizure. At the hospital, the doctor gave me fluids, morphine, and a lecture for being bottomed out on nutrients. I guess all of those 6 p.m. Wheat Thins consumed straight from the box while standing at the kitchen counter don’t qualify as nourishment after all.
Since then, I’ve tried to be more intentional about my diet, which means that now — sometimes, most of the time — I cook myself a real dinner.
Food has long been a tangible expression of love, but it can be hard to believe that on my own, by myself, I am worthy of that love. It’s difficult to prioritize one’s own well-being and enjoyment when there are so many other things requiring time and attention: emails to reply to, laundry to fold, copy to write, finances to juggle, a dog to walk. When life crowds in, self-care is often the first thing to be crowded out.
But this is the only body I get. I want to treat myself the way I would my most beloved friend or sweetest companion, gently and generously. If I don’t, who will?
So here in this beautiful kitchen, I chop the onions, and I transfer them to the hot pan to sauté in coconut oil. Adding chicken stock, coconut milk, and turmeric, I stir to make a thick sauce which, when spooned over chicken and vegetables, creates something magic, something nourishing, something worthy of me.