Moving on from the Accept and Adapt thingy, I have thought many thinks about how I might diversify. As I very gradually learn to accept and to adapt to this new loneliness, my search for how to make something of this apparent nothing has led me to a new light. Instead of dreading another long evening alone I whittled the stick of it down to a fine point. As late afternoon draws near, as I watch other people slow into a time shared, heading back to wherever together, exchanging laughter and conversation, I come back to where I sit here watching them. Although I still yearn for what was and will never be again, my inner imp sniggers at me, taps at my brain, asks me (with rolling eyes) when I plan to get off my ass and take some action. My start point may appear to be so not what I want, it is, nonetheless, my start point. I must diversify, I must find a something to replace a someone, something that absorbs me and that moves the minutes along in a happy and engaging way. By this time I am too tired to read, not very interested in television and my eyes are done with sewing. So what to do? I ask my inner imp. What do you love to do? I answer her. Cooking, I said, but…….
But nothing, she snorts. I wish I could snort as she does but I am unpractised and she has turned snorting into an art form. My resistance stands firm. There is no point cooking, I whine. Cooking for one small eater is hardly worth the bother. Pshaw!! she says as I knew she would. If, she continues, you want to diversify and you love cooking then what is there to lose by trying it out, at this very time? It will take your eyes off imagining that the whole world is happy and content with their own lives and curve you gently back into your own. Your investment in your own life can only bring you joy, even if you cannot see that yet, and it will tell you that you is important. Okay, I say. Maybe. I go to my fridge at the lonely time and turn back to her. There’s nothing much in here I say. Oh, fiddlesticks! She is right behind me. I see mushrooms, an ancient lime, natural yoghurt, that jar of capers, an onion and two old apples that look like they were born in 2020. Bring them into hope. Invent. Think. Diversify.
I soften the onion in olive oil, add the mushrooms, chopped apples and seasoning and let the lot simmer. I am absorbed, thinking outside my box, engaged. I add veg stock and a few capers, the juice of the lime and turn down the heat. People still wander by, wave, move on into their shared evening but I don’t feel sad. I am completely involved with what to do next with this flavoursome concoction. Serve with rice, reduce the liquid, add a tin of butter beans, what? Once the ingredients are softened, I decide. Soup it will be. The flavours float through the house, the punch of mushrooms eased and tweaked by the tang of lime, the snatch of capers, blending in a way that surprises me. My olfactory senses are dancing, alert, lifted. Once combined, I blend the mix, add seasoning and stir in two tablespoons of natural yoghurt. It smells heavenly. Once slightly cooled I taste. It is divine and who would have thought it? Later, once cool, I taste again. The lime and apple have challenged the mushrooms and facilitated a conversation. I hear it, smell it and taste the unity. This is as delicious cold as it is hot. I am overly chuffed enough to make a decision. Cooking will be my activity when this lonely time barrels in. It doesn’t matter that there is only me to taste whatever I prepare. I can deliver to neighbours, I can share and I will. This is not important but I is and I will build me a new way. I check recipes for inspirational combinations but I know I won’t follow them word by word. I am too flighty for such. I am more ‘bird by bird’, cooking spontaneously, using ingredients that challenge each other, not for domination but for conversation.
And so I am learning to diversify. No, more. Diversifly.