Back in August 2009, I arrived via mini-van at Corporate the Giant’s company-provided housing. With three bucks, two bags and one me, I unloaded my belongings into this shockingly abandoned-looking house. When I say, “abandoned-looking,” I’m talking about a paint peeling, dust gathering, dark with labyrinth-like hallways, “Zoinks Scoob” caliber abode. On top of its egregious state disrepair, the house could easily fit twenty or more people, yet only two other women lived there with me, thus increasing the spooky factor by one hundred and two.
I do not even want to delve into the dilapidated kitchen. I scrubbed scum and mold for two days straight only to find another layer of filth festering below. Being someone who bakes a lot and takes great joy in kitchen-time, I was incredibly disheartened and admittedly lonely in this new place. My father, in a state of shock and horror, characterized my new abode perfectly by expanding the dictionary and inventing his own word. “This place is absolutely Dicksonian,” he exclaimed, for Oliver Twist would have felt perfectly at home.
Then, something magical happened. The company moved a troop of actors in and they brought energy and life and songs, among other things like a basil plant for the windowsill and a cardboard cutout of Cyndi Lauper.
The kitchen became the gathering place it should be and we cooked together. Biscuits baked, grits cooked, and turkeys brined. We shared Thanksgiving and Christmas together and although we all began as strangers in a strange place, through our meals we created a little home out of a terrible house.
Directly below my bedroom, loud nights/early mornings in the kitchen kept me awake several nights but I would take the raucous outbursts of musical numbers and guitar playing any day over the empty space where I’d initially moved.
In the beginning of 2009, I didn’t know these people even existed. A year ago I hadn’t met many of the wonderful and talented people I know now. I’ve spent my time baking and cooking through the year, sharing food and preparing it with others and getting to know them along the way. The medium of food is a connective one that presents possibilities of social adventure and nurtures old friendships. I hope that 2010 is a year of food and of meals and of sharing both with friends both new and old. In the words of J.R.R. Tolken, “If more of us valued food and cheer above horded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
I’m now finished with my time at Corporate the Giant, but I’ll look back on it fondly thanks to all of the food, the cheer and most of all, the friends.