Monday, January 7, 2013

maybe it just sags

Today I said something to Sam I never thought I would say:

"I hate cooking."

One year ago I was mourning my decision to not attend culinary school. During fall 2011, Sam and I took a trip to NYC to visit culinary schools-- the French Culinary Institute and the Institute of Culinary Education, specifically. These two seemed like the best options, and I even got to sit in on a five hour class at FCI. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I observed (and helped a little!) as the classes made duck confit, macedoine salad, salade nicoise, tartes aux pommes, pear frangipan, gravlax . . . truly amazing and beautiful dishes. (I ate so much that night!) When I stood in those kitchens, I could see a very clear vision of myself there. The pieces of my heart snapped into place like a puzzle. The rest of the weekend Sam and I talked and talked and talked about how we could make it work: living in New York City, having more kids, paying for school, etc. Figuring out logistics isn't my strong suit, but I really felt like we could make it work. With my writing background, I was hoping to enter into a career in food media when I finished school, and I felt like I was taking the first step to living my dream.

Within just a few weeks of returning home, Sam's career took a huge jump when he was offered a position as head editor on a new show. This was everything he had been working for since we moved to DC, and we knew we couldn't jump ship right when things were on the upswing for him. So we decided to stay. I thought maybe this meant I would just put culinary school off for another two or three years. It would be fun. We'd have another baby, I would find ways to gain culinary experience without school-- the plan was still in motion. And it continued for a while. Sam started his show, I got pregnant, and then there were a couple bumps.

I don't know what happened, but somehow, after miscarrying, I stopped caring about food. I kept telling myself it was part of the grieving process that I just didn't feel up for cooking dinner. But it dragged on for weeks and then months. I'd convince myself to dive back in and I would buy lots of groceries with new recipes in hand, but the food would always go bad before I could bring myself to use it. There was one night a few months ago I was having a rough day, but I knew we couldn't stand another night of pizza or quesadillas, so I made a real, home-cooked dinner. And it was amazing. It wasn't complicated or fancy (I think it was stir fry), but it felt so good to get back in the kitchen-- chopping, sauteing, stirring. I thought I was back. But it was a one-time thing. And it leads up to today. When I finally said the words out loud. I hate cooking.

Okay. But I don't really think I hate cooking. I mean I certainly still love food so much. But here's the thing: 2012 was a year of disillusionment. I know this is a dramatic thing to say, but my dreams got a little crushed. And while I'm not writing Sam's story, I can say that his soul got a little crushed at work. We've had a lot of long talks about dreams, careers, and combining the two-- whether that's wise or not. I still haven't made up my mind, probably because I think it just depends on the person and depends on the dream. But I can say cooking will always be a hobby for me-- except that it just stirs at painful memories right now. I've developed a different plan for my life that has nothing to do with food, and I'm hoping that by removing the pressure I'll be able to find myself in the kitchen again.


  1. Oh Courtney - I didn't realize you had miscarried. I can feel that pain. Hopefully things snap into place again, whatever those pieces are - for you, Sam, Bria, cooking, working, writing, and being. You are fabulous.

  2. This makes me sad but hopeful that things will get better. I'm glad you're taking the pressure off and doing new, exciting things and healing.

    Also, is the title of the post from Langston Hughes?

  3. E, you totally win the prize for the Hughes recognition.