Sometimes she lost her mind. Rinsing, chopping. Gathering stirring. What did all of it mean. Emotions that should not be making her sick with every cut slice chop. Her knife pieced the soft flesh of a zucchini, marring the vibrant green skin to show its unimpressive white insides. Vegetable triangles scatted in the wake of her unconscious rhythm. Chop chop chop. Tiny mountains of colors and shapes creating a landscape between her fingers. Natural destruction of the natural. But when she moved the cut onions from board to bowl back to board for the second time, it revealed that she was floating in thought beyond the moment.
It happened sometimes when she was cooking. Or maybe it happened sometimes when she was thinking. Her hands were busy. Productive. Doing the right thing. Serving. Chopping. But her mind was far away. Wondering. Imagining. Angry. Destroying. Chopping. She didn’t speak of the thoughts that drowned her. She didn’t want to stay the course set before her. And so there was little connection between her two universes, except it was the same person they both plagued.
She had made this recipe for her family hundreds of times. There was no need to look at measurements or be too picky about particular ingredients. Failing tremendously in the beginning to make a proper pie crust was a necessarily part of how easy it had become today. Thinking way back, she remembered carefully studying each teaspoon of ice water as it dripped into that dusty bowl of flour. Not too sticky. Not too dry. Pressing the film of pastry into the dish ever so carefully. Weighing and measuring each carrot and onion, and directing everything in just the right place. Intense focus and attention to detail was a thing of the past. Now, it was an automatic ritual, vegetable pie, made for those who didn’t really even enjoy this one.
But considering the evolution of her dinner preparations, that’s not where her mind had disappeared tonight. Him. He frustrated her deeply. At this point in her life, she thought it would have been better, easier, more clear. But her reflections tonight felt just as raw as a silly teenager. There must have been progress, wisdom, maturity in this quest for love after so long. How can it still feel so unsure and unknown, after so many years. Hurt and jealousy, who is to blame. Where was the well-deserved rest she had expected in this stupid game. Why has this not turned out sweeter.
There were a million reasons for her to be angry. Accusations that she would most probably be justified to make. But she knew she shouldn’t. In the end, she told herself, that wouldn’t hurt any less. She watched the heart-breaking divorces of her dear friends. She heard the lonely cries of her victimized single sister. She had watched her parents swallow incredible insults for the sake of staying unhappily married. Laughing silently, she never allowed herself to think she would be like any of them.
What then. What was this love she expected. Someone to kiss her sweetly. Someone to fight for her. Someone to fix the car. Someone to eat this vegetable pie. Someone to inspire her. Someone to teach her things she couldn’t imagine on her own. Someone who wouldn’t leave her alone in the dark. Someone who wouldn’t leave her alone in her thoughts. Someone to reveal herself to, unashamed.
And he was some of it. Some of what she could understand love to be. Parts. Slices of what she needed. Pieces of what she wanted. And maybe she was only some of it for him, as well.
But angry, because what about the rest. When he wasn’t really there. When he wasn’t really hers. When hurt and pain crept back up to the surface. When an unspoken reality stared them dead in the face. When was enough ever enough. When are the pieces not enough. When does a chopped up love become too much to bear.
Warm butter and onions sizzle beneath her tears. There are two ways to go about it. Speak or quiet. Go or stay. Get or give. But in the end both will hurt. There is not one better choice than the other, to avoid pain. There is not one path or person that will ever put all the pieces together. She has seen it too many times. How sad we all are. How lonely we all live.
But they say, love never ends. What is this ever love, that she now believes has ended. Patient and kind. Was it never love to begin with. Not envious or rude. Did love abandon her. Or did she abandon love. Not irritable or resentful. She fears tonight that she may never be completely loved by another, just as she is.
Several pies from then, she absolutely lost her mind here again. More suffocated sobs. Many a silent night of chopping. Scared of the hurt. Terrified of enduring pain. Afraid of love that she may not have found.
Until one night. She was no longer afraid.
If it’s love, she’ll take the pain. If it’s less, she won’t.