In the spirit of not letting mental illness define yourself or how you see other people. Diagnosis isn’t a label or an identity. That is what 2016 taught me.
I went the fictional route to explore the beauty of food and what it means to us and I incorporated my favourite dish, the one my mom makes best and that is lasagna. How I adore it 🙂
After years of tasteless porridge and watery soup, Tristan always thought and dreamed of what would be on the table when he was ushered into his new home, imagining a warm living room with a crackling fire which is odd because he lived in the sunny side of the country where it never snowed. He must have watched too much television where families were happy and cozy inside their homes, thinking of the same whenever there were couples who came to the orphanage looking to adopt a little boy of their own.
He was always too much of something or too less of something else. Too old, because what everyone was looking for was a little boy who still had baby fat. He was less interesting since he liked to keep quiet not because he did not have anything to say but because he had become too closed off after bouncing around from foster home to foster home as a young child till he was finally ended up at the town orphanage. He hadn’t spoken in years. So long that he couldn’t remember the sound of his voice. He thought it was always safe to be silent. And that’s how he lived.
For three years he watched in silence as the other boys got adopted, being robbed of his friends and the worst thing was that he couldn’t even be truly sad about it because somewhere out there, they were happy…without him. With a mother and a father to love them. And maybe a dog with black spots playing in the yard…
He wondering if the boys he’d left behind were jealous of him, that his turn finally came because somehow he had been adopted. Now, he sat in the back of the car, driving through the countryside with the foliage whipping past in a blur of yellow, orange, red and green. It reminded him of marmalade and peas. Of steak and hollandaise sauce that he’d seen in pictures. Of the things he wanted to taste.
His thoughts turned to a clean white plate, heaped with a mountain of mashed potatoes with a sprinkling of pepper. Then a sizzling filet next to it, steaming still and mouth watering. And of course there would be the pesky vegetables, a clump of carrots and beans, that came to ruin the party. Tristan grimaced. How he hated carrots and beans.
Finally, the car came to a halt and a yellow bungalow stood before him with a small yard and no dog. He got down.
“You’re going to love what Nicole made for you, Tristan.” Mark, his adoptive father said, patting him on the back, leading him up the two steps to the door and inside the house.
Tristan was whisked into the kitchen to meet Nicole who hugged him and said wonderful things about his new room and how happy they were to be his new parents but all through it he remained quiet. Then he was sat down at the dining table, awaiting his first meal in his new house with his new family and a plate of lasagna was set before him.
He eyed it interestingly. Then taking a bite, he smiled. He had never had anything like it.
The layers slid along his tongue, the ground beef mouth-wateringly delicious. Then the wave of tomato sauce whisked his taste buds away into the wonder of bell pepper, parsley and oregano topped off with mozzarella cheese cradled by the pasta.
Eating had never been so marvelous. He never knew what a meal could do beyond feed him for the sake of not looking ‘malnourished’ whatever that was. Forkful by forkful, he ate and marveled at the taste.
Then through a mouthful of lasagna, he mumbled:
“This is good.”
It was the first thing he’d said in years.