In 2006, I moved less than a block away to Russell's. The arrangement was that I would have a bedroom, a place for a computer and for my library of books. I'd also have a place to store my paintings and kitchenware, the china, glassware and cooking instruments I'd accumulated over the past thirty years.
The funny thing was that I'd never cooked. Never knew how to cook. Mama had always done the cooking when I lived at home and, when I lived on my own, I'd always eaten out except for staples like yogurt, fruit, and salads. These were foods I could assemble and eat without effort or regret. Not maintaining my weight as a stewardess could cost me my job. Staying away from preparing and eating food where I lived was part of a eating disorder that kept me stewardess-slim and emotionally unhappy.
So I collected kitchenware not for cooking but because it grounded me, stabilized me, even as I stored the colorful dishes, pots and pan unused and useless behind cabinets in my many apartments. Perhaps they represented the potential I might someday have for competence around having and making a home even when my career and mental health issues pulled me away from any home I'd ever had or hoped to have.
At Russell's I finally had a home, not a house but a place to experiment and be. I prepared whole meals for myself, enjoyed the creativity of cooking and welcoming others into my home for dinner and food related celebrations, and connected food not with undesirable weight and the need for dieting but with enjoyment. With the help of my friend Robyn and others, my dishes, pots and pans were no longer a symbol of a life I had always hoped for but one of the resources I now had for nourishing all aspects of my new life.
In addition to learning to cook, at Russell's I had the time and space to learn to play guitar. It was Christmas. I wondered into Warrenton's only music store, Drum and Strum, and there on the wall was a beautiful acoustic guitar, the first guitar I'd held since having mine stolen in college. Buying it, taking lessons, learning to play the blues, learning to play with others. I was beginning to feel at home in a welcoming universe.
To be continued ...