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Adolescence with Anya: cooking for comfort

Anna Bronk

For what felt like the millionth time that day, I sighed and looked at my dog as if he could save me from the mountain of homework that had accumulated in the last few weeks of school. Like the rest of my family, my dog, Mango, was aware of my inability to focus on a task for more than ten minutes. He just ignored me. 

I grumbled and groaned about how much I missed summer break and the freedom that came with it. During the summer, I could read or watch whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I even ate or made whatever I wanted. 

Some of my favorite memories are associated with food. In between my secret Subway Surfers sessions in elementary school, I used to watch in awe as my parents made roti (an Indian bread similar to a whole wheat tortilla) from scratch. During quarantine, I made fancy paninis from raw ingredients in the fridge for brunch. My favorite memory was this summer when I made mouthwateringly fudgy brownies for my family the day after they announced their goal to lose weight. Safe to say, everyone forgot about that diet for the week. 

“I want to live through that again,” I protested to nobody but myself. My parents had a meeting to attend that night, so I had to warm leftovers for dinner. Knowing nothing would get done if my mood wasn’t fixed, I set out for the fridge, but something just didn’t feel right. Going out on a limb, I decided to cook my dinner, marinara pasta, even though stacks of homework still sat at the dining room table, begging to be worked on. 

For the first time that day, I felt giddy. Excited. Thrilled. With my own two hands and without a recipe, I was about to cook a dish I usually ordered at restaurants. It was nothing special. During the summer, I made it weekly, a habit that drove my mom up the wall. Strangely, I went through the entire process—boiling the pasta, slicing the vegetables, blending some basil and oil and adding the tomato sauce—without feeling bored. I have never liked cutting vegetables, but this time, I suddenly didn’t mind it. It was like magic. I still had that chapter to read, that conversation to translate or that question to answer, but their stress couldn’t even touch me. Somehow, I had entered a new plane of existence where everything else just didn’t matter anymore. 

As I reached the home stretch, setting the table for myself, pure happiness and pride pumped through my veins. There was still no crushing wave of guilty realization that I would have to go back to doing work with less time to get it all done. There was just this impervious–to–everything peace. No thing or person could take that away from me. For that hour, I was complete. Content. Happy in the quietest sense of the word but echoing louder than ever. 

Couldn’t the rest of my life just be stuff like this? Why couldn’t I do what made me feel content? The idea sounded so simple and preposterous, reminding me of something Sofia the First would have said. At the same time, those simple moments only felt so special because of all the work put in. A prize without putting effort into it is worthless. The value came from the blood, sweat and tears shed along the way, but it just felt like too much to give sometimes.

At times like those, steal a pure moment. Enjoy the process of a simple task without worrying about the future. Just relish this slice of heaven that lasts for a second. Find peace in taking a moment to yourself. 

With that final thought, I looked back at my dog. 

“I agree, Mango. We should make those cookies.”

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About the Contributors
Anya Monga
Anya Monga, Graphics Editor
Hi! My name is Anya Monga. I’m a staff writer and graphics editor, and this is my first year on the Arrow staff. I absolutely adore fiction books, so my current obsession is Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. I can also be found enjoying music and doing math and science.
Anna Bronk
Anna Bronk, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Anna Bronk, and this is my first year as a staff writer for The Arrow. I chose to be on The Arrow staff because I have a passion for journalism and graphic design. Other than the newspaper, I love to sew, crochet, read, and spend time with my family.
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