Last evening I made one of our family recipes.
We have several of these. Recipes that were developed based on opening the fridge and seeing what was there and, from that, throwing a meal together. Sometimes a magic happens and the meal joins the list of our comfort foods.
Food that tells us we’re home, we’re safe and we’re together.
We’ve been on the road a fair bit and we have a fair bit to go, on the flight home I had a craving for what we call ‘cabbage roll casserole’ even though it’s made with Brussels sprouts rather than cabbage and even though it’s layered not rolled.
We’ve been making this since someone gave us a big bag of sprouts nearly thirty years ago.
It’s a bit of a complicated recipe, simple to make, but it involves chopping and steaming and frying and grating before assembling.
I started by trimming the sprouts and then I was off.
We have this several times a year and the recipe is firmly in my head so there was no need to checking or reviewing there was just doing.
I got into the rhythm of the process and flew around the kitchen getting what I needed, getting things out of the fridge and then putting back what was no longer needed. At the same time we needed to make a different meal for the girls, open faced grilled cheese, another home grown recipe, and that needed to be done.
Over the course of cooking, first Joe, them Marissa, then Ruby and then Sadie joined in, each doing different parts of the preparation.
It was organized pandemonium and I was right in the mix with everyone else participating as an equal member.
An equal member is a necessary member, someone who’s work made the end result possible.
All of us had our roles and our individual tasks, and we all did them.
Somewhere in there I realized that I was having fun. The bunch of us in the kitchen, the bunch of us talking, laughing and working.
Ruby and Sadie came up with an experiment they wanted to try with their sandwiches, to see which way of putting on the cheese would taste best, so they did that, loving that their suggestion was greeted with a ‘ great idea’ (because it was) and then just doing it.
This is probably a very ordinary scene for most of you. But for me, it’s still extraordinary.
I’m still getting used to the gifts of living in an accessible space.
The fact that I can use my kitchen means more than being able to prepare food, it means that I can be a part of something bigger, something better, something meaningful.
It means that my belonging isn’t just a conceptual idea it’s a physical reality.
It means that when I am remembered by the girls in the future, they will remember me, now, as someone who worked beside them, rather than someone who sat in the doorway to the kitchen and couldn’t join in.
Accessibility is more than just a space to use, it’s about being able to live freely.
There was a moment, last night, when the girls were on either side of me determining the ketchup, deli slice, cheese ratio, when my soul felt deep gratitude for finding, after 11 years of being an outsider in my own place, home.