Today’s Throwback Thursday takes us to 2003. Even then, at a ripe old age of 25, I was married and had many “big day” Saturdays at Home Depot. I hate shopping so going to Bed, Bath & Beyond the same day would have been a huge stretch for me. Probably too big a stretch. Now, at 37, I don’t go to Home Depot half as much. We’ve done the condo re-do and old house home improvement gig for years and are currently on hiatus enjoying city living in a brand new apartment building with a great maintenance team.
Why yes, you read correctly. I’m 37. I’m old. Not the oldest student in the class, but up there in the top 4 and close to spots 2 and 3. Now I have been told time and again, “you’re not old”. This is true. I’m not receiving AARP magazine and not yet eligible for Medicare or Social Security. But I’m not a fresh and dewy early 20-something year old right out of the CIA or Le Cordon Bleu either. I’ve got hustle, and I’m a huge fan of hard work, but you don’t have the energy at 37 that you did at 27. Well, maybe some people do but I don’t run, drink green tea smoothies or eat kale so not me. It’s my opinion that there are kitchen years, something similar to dog years (1 dog year = 7 human years) but maybe not as drastic, although some days I do feel 259 years old. Particularly in the lower back and feet regions.
At the internship I am finishing now the only people on the kitchen staff close to my age are my boss and two prep cooks. The pastry assistant is 23 and the other pastry cooks are in their early 20’s as well. A couple of the line cooks and kitchen managers talk about the big scary “0” and their not talking 40 or 50 as others in my circle are, but 30. So adorable. Their concerns, ambitions, fears and weekend activities are so, so different. While they’re kind enough to include me in their conversations I’ll admit that on nights that everyone is busy and the kitchen is a little ruckus some things go right over my head. I don’t dare Google them for fear of infecting my laptop with a virus from some crazy adult site – like I did when I Googled subdermal piercing after seeing my cousin’s arm at my grandmother’s 90th birthday, big mistake. Some stuff makes me shake my head and threaten to call their mothers. They love the look of shock on my face. I can’t help it, not a poker player at all. I love it though, reminds me that even though hours can be long, the kitchen can be hot and everyone is fighting their own uphill battle, life is fun. In spite of the age difference, maybe even because of, I learn so much from “the kids”. They have a confidence and fearlessness I admire and have inspired me to be a bit more confident and little less fearful of hurting myself or making a mistake. I ask them a million questions about ingredients, techniques, which are the best kitchens to work at in Boston, what ones do I avoid? They always patiently and generously answer. What do I offer them? Other than amusement? I’m a shameless old lady and will say anything to anyone so I offer little tidbits about relationships, moving out on your own, home buying and cookbook recommendations. Everyone gets their recipes from the internet but I tell them to read too and make sure I offer suggestions for contemporary books that are engaging. Some of them are even starting to listen!
My journey will be similar to “the kids” but I’m going to do it faster. Do more stages and try to fit 10 years of kitchen time into 2 to 4 years. I’ll read more and go out after shift less. They’ll travel to new places while I’ll draw on my travel experiences. They’ll work 50 to 60 hour weeks and not feel it. I’ll work 40 and think I might die. In the end though I’ll rest easy knowing that someday they’ll be the old ones in the kitchen shaking their heads and looking forward to entertaining their spouses with tall kitchen tales.