I remember going into college as a know-it-all 18 year old. My RA that year was one Christopher Ming Lee. Within the first week or so of being on his floor, he commanded my respect not only because he could write me up, but because I genuinely respected the way he thinks, from that, I respected his opinions, his decisions, and ultimately, once I read it, his writing. When I first started this blog I sought his advice as an ombudsman to focus my voice, and he chimes in every once in a while if he sees something that he likes in a post. In short, his opinion means a lot to me. I was checking out his blog, which is here, and I ended up here, which is the blog that he and his girlfriend have. It’s pretty freaking adorable. Something he wrote really jumped out at me…
“Countless meals-for-one while you create your own hustle 3,000 miles away from anyone familiar, the people you want in your life as they love and cry and marry and hold concerts and make art and make mistakes and do what made you love them to begin with. Meanwhile, you try forging new relationships in a climate where throwaway friends are as common as Astroturf roll-out lawns, and just as fake”
When I read that, it really struck a nerve with me. The first thing is that this isn’t a lamentation, it is simply a statement of fact. I might not have transplanted myself across the country, but I understand where he’s coming from. Most people by my age already have a career, or at least have a more solid direction than where I am now. The second part of this passage I don’t feel as strongly about, but I do know what he’s getting at. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends and family nearby, but there is still a feeling of loneliness, and it’s not just from living alone. It’s not necessarily and bad thing, but it’s the fact that at a certain point in your life, you realize that you have to rely solely on yourself sometimes, and that’s a brutal but liberating fact. We all know the people that have had everything handed to them their entire lives and I think we all generally feel the same way about that. I’ve always been the type of person who needs to know. I don’t like vagaries and the false hope of mystery. For better or worse, I’ve always been the guy that asks out the girl rather than keep daydreaming about her. The flip side of that is enduring failure, but deep down I’d rather know for sure than hope due to ignorance.
At the end of the day, everyone needs their own hustle, their own living. We’re looking for that, and the blood, sweat, and tears that we pour into it make the end result that much sweeter. Failure is of course always an option, but at least you know at the end of the day that you’ve tested yourself, and hell, if you succeed, that much more power to you.
I love eating, especially with friends. There’s so much warmth in the simple act of sharing food and conversation in the company of those you want to be around. That’s why it’s hard for me to come back day-in and day-out cooking for one. It seems pointless and empty to eat with only records or the TV as your only companion as you slave away. But I think that’s part of the price we pay, part of the sacrifice that we give up so that we can achieve something in our lives. Some people say that the goal in life is to be happy. I disagree completely. I think that we should contribute something of worth to society, and then be happy if we can manage it.
So as I become a better and better cook, and sometimes eating my botched dishes for one, I know that I share a kinship with everyone else in the world struggling to find their place in it. For that I’m grateful. And hell, one day, when I find the right girl, I know that cooking for two will somehow be infinitely easier than making countless meals for one.