Personal

Cooking and Catharsis

Oh, how random and obscure the genesis of beauty can be.

All I typed into the Google search bar was quinoa recipes, and after seeing one that looked easy enough, a “Mexican-style” quinoa, I went to my kitchen to start… fry the vegetables, add the tomato sauce and spices, let the quinoa sit and absorb all the flavors.

Rooswan texted me, telling me her brain stopped functioning about the basis problem from the midterm previously that day. Interestingly enough, although I assumed my brain had been working perfectly fine, at top speed even, I ultimately had the exact same dilemma.

Nonetheless, I told her what I was doing, which was finishing up the recipe on the stove, stirring the now thick, red-orange paste-like dish in my stainless steel pan. When I would stir the dish, the act of bringing the steaming spoon up to my mouth to taste my creation filled me with confidence that perhaps I really am able to do this whole domestic cooking deal. Quite the opposite of my mother. I think of a future in which I make this as merely a side dish for a family full of hungry stomachs, and relish in this dream.

To my delight, she is just as excited about my meal as I am, and after I tell her I’ve probably made about 5 servings, she appropriately invites herself over for dinner. Perhaps I’ll be able to fulfill this domestic dream in miniature this night.

So I pull out chips, cheese, and an avocado, set my small table with plates and mason jars filled with water, tidy the micro-messes growing around my home, and put an Iron and Wine record on to set the mood.

She arrives, and we scarf down the dish ravenously, enjoying each bite. The crunch of the chips are a perfect complement to the thick consistency of this dish. Perhaps some pico de gallo would go well after the dish was done. Maybe this could be a sort of burrito filling if I hosted (or attended) a burrito night. Truly, I think my home is too small to host more than probably 2 extra people, but the idea of being a host, creating dishes for people, having them enjoy my cooking, is all I could ask for.

Imagine if I was on a third date with a boy who made me laugh, and I prepared a meal for the two of us, here in my little studio apartment? Oh, what an idea.

Pressing on, Rooswan and I finish our food, and prepare to head out to study at the home next door. She offers to do my dishes, but I decline, although I am quite flattered at the extension of gratitude. How convenient that such a home exists, which such interesting, complex people, and which is so easily accessed.

Rooswan and her mother get into a dilemma, and I feel like a bystander at a car crash who can do nothing but stand and watch such as a fast, overpowering force demolishes the integrity of what is in its path. Eventually the argument pulls her outside, squeezes out any emotional strength she was holding inside, and shakes the feeling of stability that she had just finally acquired again. My heart drops for her. This behavior I have seen time and time before, and I understand how detrimental it can be to every aspect of a person’s well-being.

Upon coming back inside, any effort to focus on the assignment she was working on previously is useless, as the immediate aftershock of the previous explosion is the focal point of her thoughts. I scramble to look up the statistics and the procedures for dealing with an abusive mother, and to my surprise, it’s more common than I thought. I think of my mother, feel gratitude flood me for her benevolence, her strong will.

We go back to my home, because there is no way I can send her home in such a state of affairs. She asks if she can do my dishes again, insists even. I oblige her request, and watch her fall into a routine I can tell she has down to a science. Then the flow of conversation starts. What starts off as her unloading the current situation, exposing all the background information, the sad truth of the matter, turns into a therapeutic back and forth dialogue, expressing all of our lives woes and painful experiences.

The night grows later and later, and she ends up staying the night. I make us breakfast in the morning, she cleans the dishes. We walk to class. My day goes exceptionally well, minus how exhausted my mind is from the mutual catharsis which lasted into the early hours of the morning.

Truly, assimilation into a group is not an immediate consequence of joining one. Identity and comfort are found through exposure, through opening your heart, exposing yourself, allowing yourself to experience newness, all acts which require quite a bit of courage. I am glad I am in this environment, surrounded by these people. I am glad I am at Berkeley.

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