I Worried, the poem, by beautiful Mary Oliver, is a heart-achingly reminiscent depiction of the past year for me.
I worried a lot. will the garden grow, will the rivers flow in the right direction, will the Earth run as it was taught, and if not how shall I correct it?
It began so light, delicate, ethereal. Mounds of whipped meringue, dustings of sugar; I began the year by filling my mouth with flowers. Greedily hugging all the beautiful, velvety things close to me.
I have realized that what I’d been searching for through all these menus, put together with equal parts gravitas and whimsical naivety, all the daydreams poorly scribbled in cursive wallpapering my mind, was self assurance. It is such an elusive thing for all of us, but there seems to be a certain ache for it when you are young and trying so very hard not to be anymore. There was a craving for all things silken, feathery, and tender. A craving to indulge the vastness of sentimentality, that dusty-rose hued perspective. There are not many things I find comfort or solace in, but food has always been delightfully willing to fill the quota. It makes sense that whatever is happening confidentially inside, finds its way into smudged plate sketches, wisps of smoke, and the scattering of petals.
Somewhere along the way of 2019, a dam broke. Ravenously, I began devouring texts of femme like they were holy word. Alice Waters, Dominique Crenn, M.F. K., Julia, Ruth Rogers and Reichl. I wanted to eat at my mothers table again, feel nourished in the ways I did as a little girl, being fed with warmth and care in mind. Unknowingly, I was searching for what it meant to make beautiful food, not just pretty food.
I wanted to know what it would be like to embrace the parts of myself that until now, had seemed like a hindrance and an obstacle to success in my career. How would my perception, and therefore execution, of these tender ingredients evolve if I let the same happen to myself? If I allowed myself to search and reach into those uniquely feminine, wholly unhardened parts of my mind, creativity, and heart…what could come out of it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows can do it and I am, well,
I began to search for more and more tactile forms of delving into this self-discovery, hoping to discover “my food” along the way. Feeling like an imposter and fraud is so tiring. You become desperate for legitimacy, for validation that you are real, and worthy, in what you do and how you do it. Sometimes so much so that the waters become a bit murky, and the tides of insecurity rise higher and higher. Am I only as good as my surroundings? Can I survive out there on my own? She asked anxiously, very much on the younger side of being 20-something.
As the year carried on, the road became bumpier, unknown, and darker. Though not perfect, 2018 had been mostly up, up, up, reaching effervescent clouds. Life has to be about balance, and 2019 served it as a gloriously mocking buffet. To find myself in an unfamiliar place, without dear faces by my side day in and day out, or the comfort of routine, the shifts during those 52 weeks had me stumbling and falling. Who could care to waste time worrying about food during times like these?
Is my eyesight fading, or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism, lockjaw, dementia?
After months of pushing, pulling, stomping and stamping, it was time to rest. Time to throw my hands up to the sky and admit that I had no idea where my next footsteps should lead me, or what was expected of me. It was time to stop running up a hill, when I could just take the path around it.
No longer could I stomach the idea of stuffing blossoms between my lips, or carefully sketching out plates of food based on fairy tale and daydream. My hands craved to ache from kneading bread, and my mind to take rest in stirring stews.
Simple things. Real things. Nothing to snap into permanent memory for all to see, only the things that could be shared between hearts and hands over the table in my home.
Slowly, slowly, the eyelids flutter open, and the hands reach for a pen again. That golden, amber lit space between what is raw and what is beautiful is peeking out again. I am taking my time, and enjoying the gentle footfalls it takes to get there.
Now we are here, at this new place in a new year. It may not be where I was hoping, or expecting to be, but it is solid. Firm beneath foot, and bright overhead. In losing parts of what I held most dearly in 2018, I have learned how to craft them by my own hands, from the bottom of my heart, up. There is much being carefully built, behind the scenes and in hushed tones for now, that I look forward to sharing soon.
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And I gave it up.
And took my old body and went out into the morning
In Whites, and Colleen the woman (hello!), have grown quite a bit in the last year. It is with a fresh, and deep, breath that we wake up to this next part of the journey.
Happy new year to you all!