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The Humble Cookie

by Rhiannon Lotze 11 months ago in cuisine
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How Chocolate Chip Cookies Helped Me Reclaim My Life

In 2016, I turned twenty years old. A bright road unspooled in front of me, offering up new possibilities at every bend in the pavement. Like many budding adults, I brimmed with optimism, not realizing at the time that the ticking over of my age from nineteen to twenty had no tangible effect on my life.

After all, age, as they say, is just a number.

Nevertheless, excitement pooled in every hollow of my soul, entwined with the knowledge that I was formally an adult and could really begin to steer my life in any direction I chose.

And then I got sick.

I'm still kicking, so don't worry. This isn't a sad story.

But this is important information.

My illness came on slowly and centred in my stomach. Unusual nausea here and there. But it slowly grew worse until I was extremely nauseous all the time. I lost weight because I could hardly bare to eat. The aroma of food alone could drive me from a room.

Eventually, the illness mellowed out, yet expanded at the same time. The nausea abated to manageable levels, but my joints started to ache. A few other things became affected. It also triggered anxiety and depression that did their best to confine me at home, where I could be sick in the shadows.

I wish I could tell you what this illness was. It still affects me, coming and going in waves.

I don't have an answer to that question though. Tests and scans and scopes and more tests yielded little information.

I manage it the best I can.

One of the most important things for me, once my health began improving for reasons beyond my understanding, was reclaiming who I was before I became sick.

Illnesses are akin to demons, possessing you body and soul. It's difficult to resist them, until you become a vessel and nothing more.

In my case, it drove me to forsake many of the things I once loved, so I set out on a quest to vanquish what I could of my demon and rediscover my old loves. They were the buried treasure of my heart.

I was, and am, a storyteller. But I set my pen down for years and the stories in me dried up.

My pen is back in my hand.

Books were my constant companions throughout childhood and my teenage years; I could devour a novel in less than a week. But we became strangers to one another.

Books are my friends again.

My period of rediscovery also became a period of discovery.

I have always loved food and have a notorious sweet tooth. The sourest thing about my illness was that it took the pleasure of food away from me. When I regained my appetite, I had years of missing out on all manner of deliciousness to make up for.

In my "before" period, I had dabbled in the kitchen, but didn't have any great love for the art of cooking and baking.

Yet it became important to me to defeat this most insidious facet of my illness by not just treating myself to wondrous foods, but by cooking them too.

Armed with whisks and spatulas, my boyfriend (an aspiring baker himself) and I waded into the kitchen, immersing ourselves in cups and measures, snowfalls of flour, ribbons of melted butter, mountains of brown sugar, and heaps of chocolate chips.

We re-emerged two hours later, dusty and tired, yet triumphant, with a plate of soft, gooey chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven. The aroma was the best thing I had smelled in years; it drew me into the kitchen rather than driving me from it. The memory of that scent remains one of my favourites to this day.

The best part was that I felt good that day.

Although a chocolate chip cookie may seem like a simple thing, it has become deeply symbolic to me. Not only did the humble cookie help me explore my path to recovery, but it also inspired a love for a new hobby I still practice today, every chance I get.

Baking is calming, exciting, creative, and it reminds me that I am not beholden to my illness.

My boyfriend and I have since graduated from chocolate chip cookies to elaborate tarts and pies and more. We cook too; my favourite dish is pasta with homemade pesto.

We're even talking about opening up our own small bakery. Its name is Rainy Day, to remind us that something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie can get you through the rainiest days life throws at you.

It can make the sunny ones better, too.

Here's to the sunny days ahead.


About the author

Rhiannon Lotze

Rhiannon Lotze is a Canadian author from Windsor, Ontario, which means she's 97% maple syrup and 3% Timbit. Her published works include the short stories Barrens and Brine, and Non-Prophet, and the short story collection Of Gods and Myth.

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