Storms send flies indoors, where they stay like they have squatters' rights, and make you ashamed if you’re someone who plays Bin Jenga with your housemates. One zooms over the hob, soaring through the cloud of steam, lace-thin wings dissolving. Now there’s a corpse in your under-salted penne.
You used to like to cook. It wasn’t such a chore. A recipe was a challenge, not a test. It didn’t seem impossible until suddenly it did – now a wooden spoon feels alien in your hand, the kitchen is a courtroom, and you’re the one on trial.
There are caked-on flour fingerprints on this page of You Can Cook Too! by Chef What’s-His-Name. You used to mess up back then too. Apparently, it didn’t stop you.
You can’t find the strainer – you swore you had two! Oh, wait, one rusted, and the other… We’re past al dente anyway, with essence of bluebottle, so you make the trip upstairs to root through a box.
It’s gathering dust with those pans you used once, like the half-finished canvases cluttering the attic, one still glued to its easel from your ‘edgy black-and-white’ phase. You started all these projects? The relics of your foray into renovation – a chest of drawers with the handles removed, like you’d ever attach the antique-looking ones you chose from B&Q.
Did you buy a dozen mirrors just to hide them upstairs? In the room you never go in? Do you see yourself there? You recognise yourself a little less every day. Even these clothes don’t fit like your own. You’d wear your best dress on a normal day once, but now it’s not worth the effort it takes.
You used to have hobbies that came without guilt – doing something for nothing, no purpose, no gain. Did your enjoyment lose its value, or did you get harder to please? Working at the puzzle, the picture of you – gone are the days you’d try and force a piece to fit. You just leave the gaps bare. Maybe there’s not much to recognise left?
Was it the failed careers? Relationships you let decay? Was it around the time you realised life wasn’t going your way? Was it the wars? The uncertainty? A world spinning out of control? The pressures. The decisions. It started as a worry, progressed into a gloom, and then suddenly sending emails felt like a life or death charge.
Reflections of your past are uncomfortable when you have shame, demons, and crosses to bear. But somehow it’s worse to look back at yourself and feel you’ve regressed to less than a shell. There are things you did then you know you can’t now. You used to treat yourself like someone you gave a shit about.
Throw the strainer back into the box, barely touched, and wonder why you even opened the book. Order in a takeaway – save everyone the fuss.