If I only get one room in my house for all time, I take the kitchen without a second thought. I do my best work in the kitchen, I am happiest when cooking, and even happier when cooking for friends. I express love through food, creativity in my dishes, and write love notes by making breakfast in the morning. If ever you see me truly depressed, put a Chef’s Knife in my left hand, a glass of pinot noir in the right, a pork tenderloin on my cutting board, and Mack the Knife on the stereo – problems solved.
So it was early Friday evening that I – engrossed in preparing dinner for a few friends – was blissful in my kitchen. Every eye on the stove was enflamed in stares ranging from slow simmer to intense boil; every inch of counter space occupied with carefully selected parts that would form a whole greater than their sum.
My internal rhythm screeched to a halt with the ring of my phone – I hate telephones. I answered it without looking at the caller ID, presuming it was one of my guests.
“Good evening, this is Refugee.”
“Refugee, this is Anonymous Samaritan. Your mother has been in a car accident.”
I am glad I didn’t drop the phone into one of the sauces.
“Who is this?”
“My name is Anonymous Samaritan, I saw the accident happen. I stopped. Your mother is in an ambulance; they’re about to take her to Suburban Hospital. She asked me to call her son, Refugee, and gave me this number.”
“How badly is she hurt?”
“The [EMT’s] wouldn’t tell me anything, but she doesn’t look too bad to me.”
“Thank you. I have to go now.”
I hate hospitals. I hate the powerlessness of it all, the smell of illness, the necessary apathy of the staff, the greed of the administrators, the lucky to get sixty seconds of a doctor’s time, the horrible coffee – I hate it all.
It was forty-five minutes from phone call to me sliding through the hospitals doors. My sister lives closer to the hospital and was already at my mother’s bed side before I could find a cab. A few moments later, she told me that Mom had bumps and bruises but would be fine. “I am in a cab now; will see you soon” I replied.
I sank into the back seat of the cab as a sense of relief settled. At that moment, I realized that I had taken the time to pack away ingredients, shut down my stove, and stow perishables in the refrigerator.
I hate my selfishness.
I muttered more to myself than the cab driver – please don’t stop for anymore red lights.