I sometimes wonder what I was thinking, choosing this life as a food writer. I spend my days trotting a path between kitchen and desk, doing battle with piles of produce, always trying to imagine them into new combinations and applications. The dishes are endless and the words necessary to tell the tales never come as easily as I wished.
I think about my previous life, working in an office, going to meetings, dashing downstairs to grab a salad before returning to my desk, and I am filled with perverse longing. I was desperately unhappy there, but at least the physical work of it wasn’t so unrelenting. The kitchen sink stayed clean for days at a time. I was occasionally praised for my ideas. There were other people with whom I got to share the work.
However, as I reflect more, I realize that I’m exactly where I should be. The idea of turning myself over to whims of an employer again feels dangerous and despairing. All I have to do is brush my imagination over the possibility, and I know that it would break me to try that again.
I was never able to be my full self at work. It was as if I had to put a piece of me aside in order to walk into the office building. I always envied my co-workers, who seemed to be able to occupy the entirety of the personalities while sitting in front of their company-issued machines. It was impossible for me. Every evening, as I left for the day, I would gulp the outside air and try to shake off the feeling of constriction.
The dishes, my poky old stove, and the struggles with words that I face every day don’t feel so dire in comparison to that putting aside of self that I did each day.