“Don’t forget to eat.”
Claire is off for a couple of days on a glamorous work excursion to salubrious Peterborough. That was her parting sentence as we said goodbye this morning, and I mounted my two-wheeled steed for the cycle into work. Well, actually it was, “Wait! Wait! I haven’t got my suitcase out of the garage!” as I almost rode off with the only key.
I talked last week about cooking being my zen garden. It’s what I do to decompress, to unwind, to relax. When Claire reminded me to eat, it was done with a wry smile and in good humour, but it’s actually a bit more serious than that. I say it’s my safe place, but then, that’s only true when someone else is around. Food, for me, is a bit like Twister: hilarious with friends, a bit sad on your own.
Cooking isn’t simply a place to decompress and unwind, it’s a process of affirmation. It’s a performance. It’s an important part of keeping my nostrils above the rising sewage of self-doubt. I’m Chewie, vainly holding a bendy bit of conduit in the hopes it will slow down the trash compactor of misery on the detention level, whomever I’m cooking for is R2-D2, cheerily bleeping and blooping as he saves my ass.
You see, when there’s just me, it quite simply never occurs to me to cook. I’m absolutely terrible for just ordering a takeaway or having four bowls of cereal for dinner. If they’re there, I’ll eat an entire packet chocolate Hobnobs rather than boil some bloody pasta.
Well, I don’t know. What’s especially confusing is that not only will I then feel like shit about my decision for eating like Kevin in Home Alone, I’ll feel shit because instead of nutrients, I’ve filled my stomach with oats and chocolate, and moreover I’ll know for a fact that I’m going to feel like this before I do it. We learn at a very young age not to chomp down on the cat’s tail, because the cat turns round and gives us a facial scar like Inigo Montoya. Life is full of these little lessons and we learn them quickly, lest we die.
And yet, because it’s just me, I find it difficult to prioritise. Claire knows this. She knows this much better than I do actually. When we went shopping this weekend, she made sure I’d got food in I could do for myself easily, because she knows otherwise I shan’t bother.
It seems that while I may be making steps to embrace being more mindful — I started some home yoga yesterday, too — a holistic approach to self-care may be just out of reach at the moment. That said, it’s important to recognise how much progress I’ve made in this direction. I’m parsecs away from where I was last year, but it’s always the last few kilometres that are the hardest. Trying to remember this simple thing is a much bigger hurdle than it may seem, but one that’s important to leave far behind.
So, Andrew, “don’t forget to eat.”