a letter to my soulmate
There aren't words to express how much you mean to me. Life would be empty, joyless without you. You fill me up, you give me life. Your humility, your modesty, the way you support everyone else and step back, letting others have the spotlight. Well, let me tell you something, honey - you're the star of the show every damn time. You are complex, you are infinite, and I love each and every part of you. I love you when you're soft and when you're tough, when you're warm and when you're cold, when you're sweet, sour, or downright cross (for the record, I still think you're pretty sweet when you're cross with me). You look beautiful when you're pale, tan, plump, thin, covered in spots.... my dear, you look lovely always. You are timeless, you are beloved, you are a treasure. If there is a God, you are the best thing they have ever made. Everything pales in comparison to you; when you're there, I can look at nothing but you. Given the choice between you and the world, I'm choosing you every single time without question. The word 'love' does not do justice to my feelings for you. I am grateful, grateful, grateful you exist, and I thank my lucky stars that you love me back. You're there for me, you take care of me. Every time you call me your butter, I melt. I will use this life, these hands, to bring life and love to you as best I can. My body and soul are yours. My dearest, my darling, my beloved Bread. I am yours.
All my love,
15 years old, I was not the best babysitter. Not the worst. My brother made it out alive. But he was 12. Did he really need a babysitter? I wondered frequently to my parents. They were not convinced.
So, once a week, every week, for three years, I was my brother's tether between the living world and death -- at least according to my parents. I, the angsty teenager, had to keep my brother, the angsty pre-teenager, alive. In reality, this meant we both had to ignore each other for roughly three hours and not light any fires. That was doable.
Unfortunately, I learned part of this whole "keeping the young alive" thing involves nourishment. I didn't cook. My brother didn't cook. But inevitably, hunger would settle in, as hunger often does, particularly around dinner time.
Enter Kraft Mac & Cheese, direct from the box -- instructions included. This was a godsend. I didn't need to know how to cook. I didn't need my brother's help. I just needed to follow three instructions printed on a box and measure ... ish.
Each week, the measuring was a little different. Do I really want to dirty a measuring cup just to measure milk, I'd ask myself. Nine times of ten, the answer was "No." The results were paste or soup. Do I really want to wait and keep stirring until two whole tablespoons of butter are melted? Again, no. Of course not. The TV was on and much more interesting than a pot, a spoon, and the dull ache that would creep into my thoroughly unexercised biceps. Mac & cheese without most of the butter usually turns out... watery. Mmm. Delicious.
But it didn't kill us. I didn't burn the house down. And in the process, I became quite proud of my soupy, bland, watery, box mac & cheese.
In fact, years later when I was home from college, my brother was feeling sick and requested a special meal. He wanted Kraft Mac & Cheese. He didn't want to make it. He didn't want our mother to make it or any of our other relatives. Oh no, he wanted my soupy, bland, watery, never-turns-out-the-same-way-twice version of box mac & cheese. 'Which I made for him. It has kept him alive so far. I'll count that as a babysitting win.
I open the cabinet and pull out one of those blue plastic cups that everyone owns..
Walk over to the cupboard grab the box and walk back to the cup..
Pop open the top, start to pour and smile hearing the pieces fill the cup..
Pop the top back closed then walk to the fridge, pull out the final ingredient and finish off my blue cup of delight..
Sit down on the couch and put a spoon full into my mouth.. Feelings of being a child fill my body, bring me down back to earth, calming me..
I wonder if Lucky Charms will always bring me comfort or if one day it will change into something more grown-up..
Ones made just by me
Cheese and beef
Lettuce and Tomato
Sauce so good.
Eating one makes me feel
like I'm on a cloud.
Not too spicy
Not too mild
Just the perfect amount of heat
To make me smile.
When I've had a bad week
A bad month
A bad year
to a taco
Made by me.
Like a friend would
in these troublesome times.
I can’t say I have any certain meal that I call a comfort food. When the phrase comes up, I think of warm tater tot hot dishes with peas and corn mixed in. I both love and hate these meals as they taste delicious and remind me of puke simultaneously. However, I can say that I have a comfort drink.
I discovered it one night after a run at the college gym. I took a stroll by the library and put in some money in one of the many vending machines lining the building. Just about everything in them I hate except for the nonflavored bottled water. Thankfully, there were a few more options at the machine that I stopped at. Those options were a set of attractive glass bottles labeled kombucha. I did not know what kombucha was, but was drawn to its bizarre name.
My sweaty fingers typed in the vending number. I grabbed the drink from the bottom, opened it, and looked at it for a few seconds in mild surprise. What looked like a fine mist came wafting out from the bottle. A strong fizz followed alike to what I’d seen from sodas. The glass was a dark brown and much thicker than I’d expected when I put it up to my lips.
I was half certain I’d drank something alcoholic when the liquid went through my throat, singeing it from the fizz. The drink tasted like fizzy ginger tea and I liked it despite the small sting in my throat. This was the first time I’d drank kombucha and the beginning of weekends dragging bags of heavy glass bottles into the outdoor recycling from my dorm.
Kombucha is a wonderful or terrible tasting drink, depending on who you ask. Its ingredients are essentially one bizarre concoction of fermented cultures with a potential vinegar aftertaste. I hate the taste of vinegar but don’t mind the taste of kombucha. I also don’t mind that many of the organic brands have culture particles floating at the bottom that look like remnants of rotting fruit submerged in liquid. The bottle labels of many Kombucha brands are filled with so many colorful eastern patterns that it looks like the drink could take me on an acid trip.
I don’t think I’ve met anyone else who likes kombucha. I once had my brother drink one. All he did was complain that the drink tasted too fermented to guzzle down in a few swigs. I remember him taking off the cap nonchalantly, sniffing it, sipping it, and then negatively remarking that he needed to sip it in order to drink it. I guess that’s expected from someone who drank several large cans of Peace Tea every day in high school. Once I got my mom to try Kombucha. Unlike my brother, she refused to get a bottle of her own, so I poured some of mine into a small shot glass. The second the drink touched her lips, she cringed and put it back down. The taste had too much vinegar for her and she never drank it again. I don’t understand why kombucha turns so many off, it’s not much more than fizzy tea and likely not much stronger tasting than most alcoholic drinks. It’s also great to have at 2am.
After some nights at the gym, I’d usually take one to drink afterwards like I did on my first night. Sweating and sticky from the humid night air, I’d walk down the street, guzzling it, listening to Judas' priest at full blast through my ear buds. That was my habit throughout junior year. I felt pumped and rejuvenated with the coolness of the drink and its tangy flavor. This drink stung my throat like fire while loud guitar riffs snuffed out any surrounding noise on the dark streets. When I got to my dorm room, I’d place it next to my computer and drink it through to 2 am while listening to more Priest blaring in my earbuds. The drink had high amounts of caffeine, but perhaps that was for the better in these situations.
The only other person I’ve seen as a serious kombucha drinker was a food challenge youtuber called the LA beast. A few years ago he made a homemade batch that looked like purple bile when he poured it into a gallon sized glass. The piquant liquid fizzed out onto the table while culture sedimented to the bottom of what then looked like a tall witch’s goblet. It took roughly thirty minutes of horror before he finished the kombucha. The LA beast had guzzled it non-stop until the glass he’d completely drained the glass. Every few seconds, he would gag and compare his suffering to some cartoon character. This was one of my favorite LA beast videos. I’d always end up laughing so hard I could barely breathe by the end of his antics.
I’ve had many positive memories with kombucha, as kombucha is an essence of me. It’s also an essence of the LA beast and any other individual who likes fermented drinks that look like grey water.