Resilience

Resilience was not a word I thought about a lot until a few days ago. Waves upon waves of bad news have been storming our homes for months now and my conservative South- Asian upbringing didn't include swimming lessons of any kind. But the more I think about this word, and let it roll over my tongue, the more I realize that I'm quite familiar with it. In fact, it's been growing wild in my warm apartment kitchen. About a year ago, on a sunny Monday morning, I married a wonderful man. Typical arranged marriage situation, except of course, for the very atypical global pandemic we are in. We first met at a generic coffee shop, taking off our face masks hesitantly for an awkward hello. We met many times after, always swapping stories over a meal and spent about three months getting to know each other before the date of our actual ceremony. Given the pandemic conditions, the usual jokes every bride hears about learning to cook before her wedding were passed over for repetitive concerns on sanitization and social distancing. I'm certain we discussed food preferences, but the early romantic fog must have kept me from clearly seeing just how important food and its preparation would prove to be once I moved out of my parents' home and into my own! I'm telling you this because I found myself thoroughly perplexed a few weeks later. Cooking, as it turns out, was more at the heart of a marriage than I had considered. I've seen TV dramas where the kitchen shelves are neatly stacked and all the appliances are in the right locations, but even the scenes that depict people actually cooking don't fully capture the emotion of what goes on in a home kitchen on a daily basis. I didn't know that I didn't know how to cook. I certainly didn't know how to cook a full meal for two people in the forty minutes between when I sleepily entered the kitchen each morning and when I ran out the front door screaming about being late for work again. The opportunities to make mistakes were so many – dicing the right number of vegetables, pouring an exact amount of oil, mixing in the perfect amount of spice and so on. At first, I found this daily task sitting restlessly on top of the heaviness I rolled around all day- the fear of a virus. I was determined to make excuses for my inadequacies. This pandemic, I can say with relief, is not something I'm responsible for. But my cooking is. And the more I began to view it as a therapeutic pushback against the devouring thing that lived across the floor from me, as a tiny act that expressed my love for my partner, the more it became an activity I could rely on rather than resist. So maybe I know a few things about resilience. It has been thriving since I've learned to ask “What would you like to eat today?”

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Krister Axel

Music Blogger and Memoirist at CHILLFILTR.com

Ogdensburg, United States