There are things I believe in life and I believe them, not because I was told to but because I have found them to be true. I believe music is essential. I think at one point, everyone needs to dance or at least drive a long drive with the windows down and the volume to a favorite song turned all the way up. I think we need to scream the lyrics in our best out-of-tune pitch.
Back as a kid, The Old Man used to have a Ford, Mustang fastback. He told us sometimes, you just have to open up the gas and let her rip. I feel this way too. Sometimes, we just need to open up and belt out a scream. Sometimes, we need to know we’re alive.
Sometimes, you need to break dawn and stay up all night and sleep in the next day. Every so often, we need to deviate from our normal routine; we need to get away in a sense and let off a little steam.
Also, sometimes, we just need to get away from people, places, and things; we need to remove ourselves from the equation for a bit and subtract ourselves from the crowd.
There are things I believe and I will always believe them because I have seen their proof as well as their benefits. I remember a day specifically. I was 33 and by myself for the first time in my life. Mom was gone and living far away. The Old Man had been gone for several years at this point. My Aunt Sondra who was like a second mother to me was gone. My family had spread out across the country and much of the glue that held us together had worn away. I was alone in a much different way. To me, this was frightening at first. I was scared of this until I learned it was a victory, not a defeat.
I was separated with my divorce pending and my circle of influence and social groups had dwindled down to almost no one. I was alone in more than just one sense of the word. I was by myself without help and facing different financial difficulties. I was afraid. I was afraid that I would fail at being a dad the same way i failed at being married. I was scared I would end up alone. I was uncomfortable in my own company and uncomfortable in my small apartment. I went from a large house with a two car garage, half-acre of land, in-ground pool, a laundry room, nanny’s quarters in an uppity part of town, and central air to a small, upstairs, two bedroom flat in a private home in my old childhood town.
I barely had plates to eat from and pots or pans to cook with. The stove was new. The place was small but it was nice. I had a fridge but the fridge was mainly empty.
I thought to a chapter I read in Fulghum’s book, “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I thought about a chapter in which Fulghum writes about a day in his life that he would like to live over again, exactly as it was, without changing a thing.
Up until this point, I could not recall a day I would want to relive, exactly as it was, without change. Fulghum also wrote about a day he spent alone. He made chicken fried steak for himself with biscuits and gravy.
I was never
much for the biscuits and gravy or much for chicken fried steak for that matter;
however, I do believe that food is love. I believe in the words, “Comfort food,”
and I believe in the nurturing benefit of eating a good meal.
There is something to this. There is something therapeutic that goes into the preparation of a meal, which is why I believe that food is love.
Food is love and I believe this with all my heart. I believe that tastes may vary. I believe that food choices will vary as well. But above all, I believe that food is love and love has the ability to cure the broken pieces of our life.
I decided to follow Fulghum’s idea but I added a few details of my own. I played music and sung real loud. I had previously gone to the store and bought enough chicken cutlets to feed an army. I picked up a bag of potatoes too. I bought salad and all that I chose to put in it. I even picked up a jar of large caper berries, some artichoke hearts, and I made sure I had all the ingredients to cook my most favorite meal ever.
When I was a kid, Mom used to make breaded chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes. She used the best breadcrumbs, which I was able to find, and I made sure that I had enough.
As soon as I got home, I turned the music up as loud as I could. Fortunately, the landlord and family were away, which meant I could make noise and not worry about them complaining. This also meant that I could sing at the top of my lungs. Essentially, I was able to dance like no one was watching because, of course, no one was watching.
I prepared the potatoes and peeled them. I set them in a pot to boil so that I can recreate Mom’s famous mashed potatoes. I gave the cutlets an egg wash, powdered them with flower and then added the breadcrumbs. I put all the cutlets in a pan, one by one, and I fried them all.
I finished the mashed potatoes and mashed them, whipped them, and then added a few special things like sour cream and butter and some other secrets I cannot share.
I set out the artichokes in a special dish. I set out the caper berries for me as well because these were my appetizers. Then when it was time for me to eat, I piled my plate with food made for me, by me, and then I ate until I was content. I made sure there was enough brown gravy to go around.
And when I say I ate well, I say I ate well!
The music played. My belly was full. And the last thing I thought of was how lonely I was or how separated I was from the rest of the world
I don’t remember much else about that day. As best as I can recall, I put the dishes in the sink (because I could) and then I lay on the couch to watch television. There was no one there to argue with or tell me what to do or when to clean up. No, there was just me in the aftermath of a perfect realization.
I believe that food is love. I believe that love like this has the ability to solve the riddles of a broken heart. I learned how to feed myself, which is more important than most people realize.
I learned how to nurture me instead of relitigating the past and rehearsing past arguments that can never be altered, fixed, or changed no matter how many times I re-rehearse them in my head.
I was interviewing a client over the phone and discussing their menu for the day. “I’m hungry,” said the client. “But there’s no food in my house.”
While on the phone with me, I coached the client to go over to the fridge and tell me what was inside.
There were eggs inside. There was spinach. There was cheese too. After discussing the ideas for breakfast, the client agreed to cook a meal. And it worked. I received a call shortly after the client finished breakfast.
(By the way, I’m not one for spinach myself. But again, tastes vary and so will the menu)
The food was prepared by my client and for my client. I told about my date with chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes. I mentioned how food is love and how we always need to feed ourselves; otherwise we starve. And I don’t just mean starvation due to hungry. We starve from love. And as best as I can call it, no one wants to be that kind of hungry.