I’d like to preface the post with a disclaimer: this is not a love story. Well, perhaps it is one of sorts, but certainly not in a conventional way. Leave your romantic hankering at the door before reading. Food cravings only.
It’s 8pm on a Tuesday evening and my flatmate (henceforth, C) is prepping butternut squash soup and a batch of Bircher muesli. Again. This is our routine – a sacrosanct midweek evening ritual – essentially something we do to kid ourselves that we’ve found balance in our lives.
We’ve been living together for four months and as far as I can see, all is well. In spite of traumatic workdays, we’re content in each other’s company and have come to seek solace in one another when the daylight hours have been particularly tough. What was the cause of tears hours earlier can lead to fits of laughter when at home. We have hit the jackpot as far as moving in with strangers goes.
The domestic bliss we’ve created was not guaranteed. We struck lucky and I will admit, we’re smug about it. But I’m inclined to believe there’s more to it than personality types. As is often the case in my life, it’s all (or mostly…) about the food.
Every night we come home and wash our tupperware from the day. The smell of warmed yogurt remains wafts across the kitchen for a few seconds until the apple-scented Fairy liquid cuts through. This is followed by food flasks or tubs depending on which lunch option we went for that day. The pots are stacked to dry and we get on with our evenings. I usually piss around on Facebook and listen to podcasts while C skypes her mum and we shout through doors about the ridiculous events of the afternoon.
A couple of hours into the evening we reunite for food prep time. This is our solidarity moment. We are on a level. It is time to put a lid on Tuesday and find some sanity in time for the remainder of the week.
The breakfast tupperware we bought in September has come to symbolise many things for us. We are grownups. We make our own breakfast and we make it the night before because we are working-on-a-schedule. You know? We have mixed oats and a fruit bowl and a cafetiere so I guess you could call us “adults” if you wanted to. This is thing one.
Thing two – we live horrifically mundane lives and we should get on a plane to Bolivia tomorrow and never look back. Okay yes this is dramatic but it is also true. That tupperware is the epitome of boring suburbia 2.4 kids 9 til 5 need to put petrol in the car alarm clock how did I get here shit. I despise it. When we have time off we rejoice at eating out of ~real~ bowls. That is how we get our proverbial kicks. And yet…
And yet there is a thing 3. The process of mixing the oats and the seeds and the yoghurt every evening to start again the next day is some kind of weird, sweet therapy. It is the moment when we look at each other with a mutual confidence – we can find the serenity needed to keep going through the next working day because we’ll have had a solid breakfast. We can keep going.
Our ambivalence for this evening custom is rooted in a deep contempt for the humdrum and a heartfelt willingness to avoid being a disillusioned twenty-something. Cynicism is easy. Getting up at 5.30 and embracing the tupperware is not. The ritual of the preparation every evening offers harmony and comfort. We manage to find some semblance of order in our otherwise chaotic days. And the oats get super creamy.
SOPHIE WHITEHEAD is a Manchester-based English graduate currently (perhaps eternally) watching The Thick of It, reading old copies of Cherry Bombe and listening to Frank Ocean. Over and over and over again. Inspirations for life, love and looks include Nigella Lawson, Leandra Medine, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and Julia Roberts circa 1988.