I used to take for granted my parents, brother, and I all being at home at the same time.
I used to be so immune to the aroma of sautéed onions and spices in the large metal kadahi, or large concave wok, inhaling deeply without knowledge that this smell would be fleeting if ever present in the near future.
The warmth of security in company and pungent cooking smells, powerful kitchen exhaust aside, was something I never fathomed going away. It was part of me and it still is.
On this unusually cold day for mid-May, my brother has returned home for a little less than 24-hours. My dad doesn’t have a business meeting to attend to and my mother finished cleaning, washing, and cooking before the brother’s arrival. Both my parents and brother are now indulging in some much-needed self-care. I suppose I am too in writing this.
She’s blowdrying her hair while flipping through pixelated pages of a novel on her Kindle, all after doing yoga.
The father is in the basement powerlifting and cycling.
The brother is showering after his second consecutive 24-hour surgical shift.
The aroma of the meal my mom prepared for my brother’s rare visit, but that I won’t eat, a meat dish, is delicious smelling and invokes my childhood memories. Yet it also provokes my pre-existing nausea and that ill feeling, causing my face to contort, trumps all.
So now a candle has been lit. It has a musky cedar wood scent left over from the holiday season coinciding with December.
It’s May, but I’m cold because of the overcast skies and blustery breeze and also because I haven’t yet showered; It is Sunday and I only get 5 or less hours of sleep a night, so taking a late warm bath seems comforting and smart. My reasoning is as follows: I can go to bed smelling of fresh fragrance and body soap essence, my milk and honey body lotion and feet cream and my rose face moisturizer. The next morning I can go to the gym for a less-than-intense 20 minutes, still feeling fresh and then cleanse after. It all works out. In fact, it almost seems effortless.
And it’s times like these where appreciation for such effortless tasks trumps any irritation associated with problems. It is this feeling of gratefulness that in turn makes me feel warm, cozy, and grateful. I feel my youth returning to me in these moments. I wouldn’t say it’s a flashback. There is no going back. Rather, I would call this nostalgia of a more tangible variety than the pining that comes part and parcel with it.
And then I snap back to the here and now.
My brother is sleeping. My father is likely on his iPad. My mother declares that she’s “too full” from a sandwich and won’t eat the dinner she cooked.
Essentially, the dinner is for the men, the sex that requires more food.
The comparisons and self-consciousness starts again. I ignored the English Muffin she had for dinner yesterday despite the fact that I had an entire roasted acorn squash with Mahi Mahi that I cooked. While higher in calorie, my meal was made of wholesome, healthy foods- more nutritious than the enriched flour of her English muffin, that’s for damn sure.
Clearly the comparison is still lingering in the back of my mind.
Like the day before yesterday, when I went out to eat in front of someone who didn’t. Or the day after, when someone else said they would watch me eat because they weren’t planning on eating themselves. My life has suddenly revolved around food again because, irony of all ironies, I seem to be the only person who (insert expletive in the form of a gerund here), eats.
I’m frustrated. I’m upset. I’m determined - to do what, I don’t know. Survive or live? I know the answer is the latter but why isn’t it happening? My God, why is it taking so long?
Why must everyday resolve and devolve into something less than ideal? Hell, less than just mediocre?
I’m doing what I have to do. I am.
Neither self-entitled nor attention-seeking; I’ve never taken a selfie. I apply and apply and apply some more, my skill sets squandered in the eye of the hurricane that is this millennial generation. I didn’t have to walk 80 miles in the snow in wrecked shoes, but this generation of mine is more difficult, I promise you that.
Sleeping, driving, watching - and here I am, hours later, in circles, I am typing silently for you.