RING, RING, RING.
It is the dinner bell, signaling that I go downstairs and cook. Today is an important day. Quickly, I rush to the kitchen from my small bedroom, the creaky floorboards announcing my entrance. The kitchen is empty though, and my flourish is wasted on an invisible audience. Nonetheless, my good mood can’t be lessened.
I look around, admiring the kitchen that has been mine ever since I moved out of my parent’s five years ago. Having a tense relationship with them, I moved out as soon as I deemed myself financially and emotionally independent enough, which was at twenty-three years old.
The kitchen—and the rest of the house—is old. Extremely old. If I were in a horror movie, my house would be the place where people would disappear off the face of the earth. I have even found a trapdoor under my bed that leads to a cellar. But the moans of the house, occasional stray rat, and brown, ashy water don’t bother me. I’ve learned to be grateful for the shelter I have earned.
What can a distracted little girl like you do? How can you help support the family if you daydream all the time? Absolutely useless, my father used to tell me constantly. I seethe at the memory. But staring at all the ingredients I left out in my kitchen, I exhale and relax.
This dinner is for a very important person. This person has to be respected, taken care of, and treated with kindness. There must be understanding and patience when dealing with this person. They are everybody’s number one priority and are meant to be treated like royalty—though they may not wear a crown. Despite all of this, this person is still neglected, saddened with the burdens of life.
This person is myself. And you. And everybody else who struggles to love themselves as much as they should.
As humans, we are going to hate ourselves and love ourselves and be proud of ourselves and beat ourselves up and cry and laugh and then cry again. This is how life is, and as humans, we are meant to adapt and get back up. Our hardships make us the person we are today.
To begin making this meal, I compile all the ingredients I need in one area. This meal is the most important meal I will ever eat. I make a mental list of what I’ve grabbed. There seems to be way too many to count. But all of these ingredients will be used so that I can make a certain soup.
A Life Soup.
I start with the most important item: three cups of self-love, and love for others. As it warms up, I sprinkle in a pinch of embarrassing moments—they make good memories. Satisfied with the heat, I begin to add the three spoonfuls of empathy and another three spoons of awareness. I also add a couple teaspoons of personality and humor as it simmers. And to make the soup more delicious, I add in some motivation and good health.
Now, I’m onto the part where it gets messy; when it starts boiling. I add in a couple pieces of sadness and two pieces of heartbreak, making the soup sizzle and splash on me. I hiss from the burn. In life, we will get burned. I drop in a chunk of burdens from a distance, which I know will make or break my soup. I tentatively add anger, salty tears, and frustration, but I know that in the end, this will make the Life Soup better.
I chop up a bit of mental strength and put it in the soup. Then, deciding that it isn’t enough, chop up double the amount and add that. We do and will need a lot of mental strength in life. I start to add broken relationships—family, platonic, and romantic—but hesitate, knowing that some people may feel that this is an unnecessary ingredient. I take the piece of broken relationships back and split it in half, then add it.
The smell is beginning to overwhelm my senses. I can hear the sounds of it cooking, smell it, see the ingredients come together, and taste it in the air.
I jump, remembering that I forgot to add a very important ingredient, and arguably the most important one: great family, platonic, and romantic relationships. (This includes the whole package, which includes teasing, fights, forgiveness, etc.) I flush from my mistake but continue without another mishap.
The soup is smelling exquisite. Finished, I use a ladle to pour the Life Soup in a small porcelain bowl. I put the steaming soup on a rectangular plate, and cut up some fresh memories for the side. Before serving, I grab a drink. Today, I choose to go with a refreshing cup of kisses and hugs. I inhale deeply. The meal is completed.
Heading towards the dinner table, the soup bowl slides off of my plate. The porcelain pieces fly everywhere and soup lands as far as in the kitchen. I huff with frustration. Luckily, I made lots of Life Soup. I clean up as fast as I can and head back to the kitchen, getting a new bowl and filling that with soup.
Being extra careful this time, I get the plate on the table without any accidents on the way. I sit down.
“Enjoy,” I tell my special guest, me.
I take a sip of my Life Soup. It’s—put simply—delicious. The flavor lingers even after I swallow, and the warmth makes my heart pulsate in a different beat. I take my time eating, enjoying every hug that the meal gives me.
I finish my drink and fresh memories, as well. And then I take the last sip of my Life Soup, finishing the Life Meal.
I have consumed it all: the good, the bad; the yin, the yang. I am human. And my Life Soup is what makes me human.
My Life Soup tells me to forgive my parents. The devil on my shoulder refuses. Remembering the warmth of the soup, though, makes me want to forgive and make memories again.
So I pick up the phone and dial the number I have been avoiding for months. I have used the forgiveness from my Life Soup.
Throughout my life, I will use every ingredient of the Life Soup. Separately, the ingredients may be delicious, bland, or absolutely disgusting.
Together, it is life.