Anytime I’m in a grocery store; I become wooed by the music. It’s usually 80’s pop with a good beat, and it reminds me of happy times. I’ve been known to dance in the aisles and often can be found singing along with zero regards for those around me. There have been many instances when the ex and I would stop the shopping cart and dance in the aisles together. I always secretly wished that people would join in, and a flash mob would start unexpectedly. One rule to live by, find someone who will dance with you anywhere, at any time, just because it makes you happy.
When I go grocery shopping, it’s an event. I make a list organized by aisle, grab a coffee, and settle into the experience. I enjoy talking to the butcher, the fishmonger, and the folks at the bakery. Often I will have to visit multiple stores to successfully complete the trip, but that’s ok. When shopping, I’m just thinking about the friends and family I will get to feed. The idea of people coming together surrounded by food is a favorite of mine. Seeing people enjoy something I prepared while laughing and talking with one another is something that brings me pure joy. The time spent preparing lists and prepping food is a welcomed activity knowing the result will be a celebration.
Then grocery store apps became a thing, and it was just easier to place an order and have it appear on your doorstep. The convenience these apps provided was welcomed. You can’t dance when using an app, though. You can’t talk to all of the people in the store. You can’t hold each piece of fruit and lovingly select the ones you will use. Was the convenience worth it?
Last night, I decided to go to the grocery store and shop. I grabbed my cart and found myself list free for a change. As I went down each aisle and listened to the music, the urge to dance wasn’t there. Perhaps it was because I was tired. Then I realized I wasn’t shopping for a group this time. I wasn’t even shopping for my household. This was the first time I was shopping for me. And then it hit me. What do I like? What do I cook for myself now? I can prepare and eat anything.
Of course, I grabbed pop tarts because I’m in the process of rewatching Gilmore Girls. Anytime I watch that series; I’m stuck with a craving for pop tarts and endless pots of coffee. Although during this rewatching, I realize that it did not age well, and my views on that show have changed considerably. That’s for another day, but seriously if you are lucky enough to have parents around, treat them right and don’t drop out of Yale especially when your family pays for it.
I also picked up a bunch of veggies and soup. During the cold winter months, I could live on soup. I forgot how much I loved it, and now I want to make it a staple in my kitchen again. When I hit the pasta aisle, I started crying. Triggers come out of nowhere, and they are never what I expect them to be. Once I read an article written by a newly divorced woman, and she wrote about how she started crying at Starbucks. I related to her so much at that moment. Here I was standing near the pasta blubbering and not really sure why. I felt very alone and very cold. There was no music, no dancing, just me and my thoughts. Making a pasta dinner for one seemed almost too much to handle. Would Frankie and Arya eat pasta? Who could I invite over? Maybe I needed company.
The truth is, I haven’t felt like going out much or seeing people for that matter. Now that I’m settled in my new home, I just feel tired. In four months, I filed for divorce, sold my dream home, moved back to South Philly, and became a party of one. It was a whole lot in a short amount of time. The adrenaline kept me going, and now it’s gone. Now even the smallest of accomplishments seem like a very big deal. I made a smoothie and celebrated. I did laundry and felt accomplished. I went to the grocery store and felt like I had climbed a mountain.
This experience in the store posed a very serious question for me. How do I want to cook? Should I have dinner parties? What do I like to eat now?
When you are in a relationship, so much becomes about the “we,” and it should to an extent. Here I am now, an “I’ trying to figure out what food I wanted to prepare for myself. Do I even like chicken? I’ve made it 500 different ways over the last 13 years, but did I enjoy it? Suddenly, I didn’t know. One thing I was certain of, I don’t like Quinoa. Countless times, I’ve cooked it and ate it, but now I can honestly say I don’t like it. This is either a sign of maturity or independence.
It’s easy to shop for the pups. I make their food in batches, and they eagerly wait for it each morning and night. I know the recipe by heart and don’t often alter it in fear that something may not agree with them. I’ve cooked for them every week since we moved, but I haven’t cooked for myself, usually relying on one takeout order that would last a couple of days. Let’s face it that is not sustainable.
But the kitchen? The house I rented is great. I really do love it. It’s cozy and comfortable, but I was in such a hurry to move, that I didn’t look at everything. While the appliances are new in the kitchen, the cabinets, counter, and sink are old. This has been a struggle for me. It’s a rental, so I can’t make significant changes, nor do I have the liquid capital to do so. There has to be a way to get past my feeling of hating this kitchen.
I’m starting to think it has nothing to do with the kitchen and everything to do with me adjusting. The cabinets being old and feeling almost dirty could simply be a reflection of my emotions. It’s as if I’m focusing my anger at this poor kitchen who really did nothing wrong. In fact, I haven’t seen one mouse since I lived here and in Philly that is unheard of. But I did see one dropping, just one. I have no idea if it was from the previous residents or if it’s new, yet I’ve had the exterminator out twice so far, and they are on a schedule to come back every two months. It’s become an obsession, and I’m not sure it’s a healthy one. This has made me stay out of the kitchen except for making my morning coffee obviously.
I’m not a bad cook. Admittedly I’m a better baker, but I can’t get myself to prepare anything. I have groceries now, so things are looking up. This week I managed to make a few dinners for myself, but last night, I caved at the Whole Foods salad bar. This weekend, I’m going to try to find some solutions to fix up the kitchen. I have no idea what I’m going to do yet. Here is my plan though, put on some music, grab the pups, and dance in the kitchen until I feel the urge to bake cookies.
Having said all of this, I’m enjoying this time. If my current biggest struggle is figuring out how to prepare food, then I think I’m doing pretty damn good. I may not be hitting the town every night, but I’m taking the time I need to heal and rebuild. I’ve been given an opportunity to understand myself again, and that is precious. I won’t take it for granted. I’m even bettering my relationship with Frankie and Arya. Spending quality time with them individually has been a gift. Frankie and I go for a long walk every day now. I tell myself that it’s for him to expend more energy, and while that may be true, it has forced me to walk around the neighborhood and embrace this new situation. We even started jogging on the last leg of our walk. Frankie pulls me, and I know he is doing it to help me move more.
I know this to be true, the love of the kitchen will come and I will dance again in the aisles. The difference this time will be that I will finally make my own flash mob, right in the pasta aisle.