The Gathering

The main level of my home is my favorite place.   My main level has a living room, a dining room, a powder room, and a large kitchen.  The living room and dining area are divided by a two-sided fireplace.  It is incredible how the “divided” fireplace keeps the noise down when there is a large crowd. 

In the gathering place, I call the dining room, it is where conversations happen, food is served, and drinks are had.   My friends tell me that I have become a good cook.  I am no longer afraid that I would “forget” how to make bread, for example, if I didn’t make it more often.  There was a time I did.  Weekly.  I made French bread, focaccia, pizza dough, and cinnamon rolls. I don’t make them as often.  However, I feel confident that I can do it again without fear of failure.  That is progress for me.  This progress allows me to experiment with other types of bread to make without fear.

What my friends know about me is that I love kitchen gadgets.  To cook (in my opinion), you have to have the right tools to make the job simple and beautiful as if it came from a restaurant.  I have (almost) every gadget that will fit my kitchen cabinets and countertops.  It doesn’t bother me to have large appliances on my countertops as it is a sign that I am a home cook.  It also reminds me that I have no excuse not to cook as I have the tools to do it (whatever “it” is).  I have become confident in my cooking, and I forgive myself when a recipe doesn’t come out as I thought it should.  I try it again.  I also have a few friends who are willing to act as my guinea pigs whenever I am trying a new recipe.   So far, they’ve liked what I have cooked.  

What it took for me to be confident in my cooking were patience and consistency.  It took me to make the time, to be conscious, and to respect the process. Eventually, I got better. Cooking became something I could do, and sometimes people asked me what to make or how to make something thinking I was an expert on the topic.

What I have also been known to be is a “convener.” My friend “A” coined this term to me that I now embrace. She says that I bring people together. What a great compliment! I didn’t receive it as well at first as I didn’t quite understand what she met. But, I get it now. In all the things I’ve done in entertaining, creating clubs, organizing events, I’ve made a conscious effort to bring people together. It was always my belief that if I found something lacking or missing that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. In my experience (so far), this has been true.

What makes my gathering space better is when friends share their favorite foods they make or buy with others. As they share their food, they share their thoughts, hopes and dreams in a safe space. We talk about all things important: work, marriage, divorce, finding love again, children, college, local and national politics, and our individual transitions in life. In those conversations, I have found my voice. I can see myself outside of seeing others whom I had considered “better” than me. What I have learned in those conversations was the humanity of us all. We are all insecure in one way or the other. We’ve all failed and got back up. We’ve lost and loved. So, I thought I was the only one…for years! Oh, how I wish I knew what I know now. I should have been more conscious. I should have made more time for me—to understand who I was, to get help in overcoming my fears (real and imagined); to realize that even when I make mistakes, I can keep trying until I succeed, and do not live in the space of fear forever. I have a choice: to live amongst the walking dead or to live the life I’ve imagined. Now.

I am making a conscious effort to not look to the left or right of me and not to focus too much in the rear view mirror. I am learning to stay in my lane. I have a specific plan for my life that may not be like anyone else. I am okay with that. We are all uniquely qualified for the life we’re leading–no one else’s. It is because of these gatherings that I’ve learned my lessons in life and in cooking.

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