It had been a long time since I had sat down to bake a loaf of bread. I have a rough time making myself dinner, never mind a multi-stage process that takes multiple hours to complete. Bread requires patience, something I often don't have while juggling several hustles to make ends meet.
I had a recipe for cinnamon swirl bread that is incredibly tasty. I had only made it one other time, with an ex, and it had taken us most of the day to be able to bite into that sweet, spicy deliciousness. There was a craving for cinnamon swirl bread deep in my heart and gut, even while there was a pang in my chest as I got the ingredients together a few days ago. It's strange, the things that spur on the wistfulness for a relationship withered and gone. For me, it was the smell of yeast, the burst of heat from the oven. It was cutting into that loaf and inhaling the warmth of the bread.
It was a sense of home that I couldn't go back to.
One of the things I'm trying to do more of now that my life is starting to settle into more of a routine is cooking more. So far this week I actually made two meals, which is two more than I normally make in multiple weeks. Putting together a sandwich can feel daunting sometimes. I have a lot of food anxiety, what I can eat, what I should eat, what's available, how to prepare it. Sometimes it's easier to make a sandwich than it is to deal.
But this week I made a pork, apple and sweet potato stew, and I made some spicy black beans that became the main ingredient in some pretty delicious soft tacos. Being as this is also the week before launch of Harlot Magazine, the online startup that has taken over my life for the time being, I wonder if maybe the rash decision to cook food was in part informed by a desire to step away from the computer and do something more with my hands other than type.
Regardless of why I settled down to do it, I found myself more comforted than worried about the results. I used a slow cooker for both, and perhaps that's part of it, knowing that you have to leave it to cook for hours after just throwing things into a pot. It's not very time sensitive, you can do some labour and then leave it. And I don't have to worry about getting too creative, just basic recipes and then add whatever spices I want. Easy enough for even me to do it.
After baking that cinnamon bread I reached out to my ex, because I missed him very quickly and suddenly after a couple of months too busy to really reflect on it. He responded with kindness and understanding, and though I don't know if we're ready to be friends, I'm glad we've at least agreed to let go of grudges. I don't want to tear up every time I smell cinnamon bread, even if he never makes it with me again.
I have been afraid of domesticity for so long. I've been afraid of cooking, of owning furniture, of painting walls and nesting. My life has been so nomadic and tumultuous that settling down felt like something that was beyond reach. When I think about living with a partner, I feel a clench in my gut that whispers "that's not for you". I don't know that I know how to not be a feral cat, rarely letting someone pet them, never staying too long in any one place.
My life is hectic. I'm working for a startup. I just signed the contract for my first book. I'm traveling to the NCSF Consent Summit they're doing, which is an idea I threw over to Susan maybe a year or so ago and I'm so overjoyed they're doing it. My porn is taking off- I'm going to BBWCON this summer and will actually have DVDs of my own, self produced, to sell. I'm dating three incredibly lovely and patient people who understand my wariness and sadness. This year has been remarkably good to me so far, and yet I still find it hard to buy a rug for my apartment.
But I'm starting to try to settle. I'm fixing up the sewing room in my place, making it feel like mine with mermaid and manatee pictures, pillows of whales and giant squid. I'm starting to invest in my life here as if it's something I can actually have. I'm buying veg boxes and canned food and not living off spoonrocket as often anymore. I'm trying to learn how to trust, and how to feel safe.
It's a learning process. But with every crockpot meal I make, I feel a little more stable, a little more adult, a little more home.