Me and my stomach have a long standing rivalry. So severe that it has been in a state of rebellion since Thanksgiving 2006. Quite honestly, there are days (like oh today for example) where just the thought of eating is enough to send me to the bathroom and emptying whatever I have in my stomach at the time.
It’s not purposeful.
I just have no appetite. Almost starting to forget what one felt like.
It scares my friends immensely. Tinkerbell admitted that she was terrified the next time she would see me would be my funeral. Before we started dating, Eva would convince (read: manipulate) me to come over for dinner under the excuse of her needing a study partner. The Bait and Pippi would drag me to lunch after Mass every week. And because I hate to make the people I love worry, I would make myself eat.
And more often than not, throw it all up later.
It is so strange to see old pictures of myself where I weighed about 250 to know when I weigh 190 when full of water. Scary part? This time last year I was 170 but I basically forced myself (with help) to eat and exercise enough that I gained back about 15 pounds of muscle.
The worst part of all this?
That although I know my friends only worry because they love me, sometimes they go about it in very wrong ways. When Eva and Imogen cornered me over the break and started in on me needed to eat more I tried to get away. When they wouldn’t let me without me pushing them (which they and I knew I wouldn’t do) I started to panic. Then Eva suggested they make me weigh in front of them.
I fucking lost it at that point. And while I did apologize later, I made sure they understood that I meant it when I basically said that them doing that made me feel like livestock. I also thanked them for caring about me. It was kind of tears all around from there.
So when people (mostly women) say they would like to trade stomachs with me, I make sure they know what they would be getting themselves into.
1. Cramping (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve lain awake at night in tears because my stomach was cramping. Now consider the fact that I can dislocate my shoulder and pop it back with only a grimace.)
2. Complete loss of appetite (Say goodbye to any holiday meal. Haven’t had more than a few bites at a holiday since July 4, 2006.)
3. Acid (When you decide not to eat, your stomach AKA that treacherous bitch decides to punish you by letting you deal with that constant burning feeling in your stomach. The burning that gets worse when you feel bile rise up.)
So anyone still willing to trade?
“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into without abandon or not at all.” – Harriet van Horne, American newspaper columnist
Allow me to state for the record that I love to cook which is ironic seeing as how I don’t eat nearly like I should. If you look on my 101 Things in 1,001 Days list you’ll see that #22 is to eat at least two meals a day every day for a month. Folks, that hasn’t happened since December 2006. And I wish I were making that up.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a not-so-secret dream to one day own my own restaurant.
Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are of learning how to cook. Me and Mil had little foot stools at our grandparent’s house so that we could reach the counter tops to help her. Grandma C always told us that when you cook for someone you love, whether it is in the familial, platonic, or romantic, you add a bit of your soul to the food. Hence why a home cooked meal always taste better than one made by hired hands.
A bit of your soul. I didn’t understand when she first said that when I was a preschooler. But having Daybreak sit in my lap as I show her how to make apple pie from scratch, I get it now.
I love seeing people enjoy a meal I’d prepared. For that bit of time that they spend eating and talking with one another, I can watch them forget about some of their troubles. Whether it is that test looming ever closer or vexing situations with work, during a good meal the world’s stresses aren’t so pressing. I enjoy taking care of people, this is just one of the ways I go about doing so. I have a slight ‘Mother Hen’ complex; I’m man enough to admit it.
Quite simply, cooking is cathartic for me.
So after a rather hellish visit to my parents, I came back to my home here and started making a good Sunday dinner for my friends here.
We laughed as I teased The Bait for his extraordinary ineptness in the kitchen. We laughed during the fencing match me and Eva had with the spoons and we all gave chase as Faith made off with one of them. In preparation of caroling, all ten of us (Faith got in on the act as well) sang “Joy To The World” and “Silent Night”. Seated around me and The Bait’s living room, I felt the emotional baggage of yesterday fall away.
There is no divorce looming here. There are no harsh silences or loud arguments. There are no alcohol-fueled tears.
This is my home.
These lunatics are my family.
By God, I love them.