Sharing clementines as a love language.
There is something so deeply intimate about sharing a kitchen space with another. The sacredness of another person’s kitchen creates a feeling of hesitation — I’m beyond grateful for anyone who welcomes me into their kitchen, but I often feel as if I need to tread carefully while learning how to navigate their space. Maybe this is another example of my tendency to overthink things, but I suppose there’s no harm in romanticizing the mundane. There was a period of my life where the idea of eating in front of others brought me an immense amount of anxiety. I still get hit with the occasional wave of nervousness when eating around others, but I’ve learned to work through it.
The first time I felt this food-related anxiety was after one of my previous partners spent all day making noodle soup. On our first date, we had a conversation about ramen and he decided to surprise my with homemade ramen the following week. I remember watching him float around the kitchen chopping garlic, adding dashes of various spices to the broth, and gently stirring the pot whenever it started to boil too much. Our relationship had many flaws, but this memory occurred during the “honeymoon phase” when things were still fresh and exciting. He plopped the noodles in my bowl and ladled broth over them. We looked at each other right before taking our first bites.
As I started chewing, my body immediately tensed up and I felt my ability to swallow food disappear. He noticed the sudden shift in my body language and recognized that something was wrong. He assumed my reaction had something to do with the taste of the soup which I had to quickly address because it had nothing to do with the noodles. This happened every time we tried to eat together. Instead of sharing meals, I’d either eat before hanging out or bring an apple. Our relationship eventually became really unhealthy, and I often wonder if that moment with the soup was my body’s way of acknowledging that something was off. Our bodies know way more about the world around us than we ever give them credit for. I’ve learned to trust gut feelings, which can be conflicting because living with an anxiety disorder can cause a whole variety of uncomfortable sensations. Luckily, I’ve also learned how to decipher between general anxiety and the visceral experience of a gut feeling.
In my own home, I have a cabinet overflowing with tea and a bowl on the countertop that usually has some type of fruit nestled into it. Tea and fruit are an essential part of my kitchen because they both act as a declaration of my appreciation for those within it. I don’t have people over as often as I’d like, but I’m trying to change that, so for those who have never been, being offered tea or fruit upon entering my house is to be expected, and it’s my way of insisting that my home is your home. I have never bought a bag of clementines with the intention of having them all to myself. All clementines are house clementines. I have this weird obsession with finding out which fruits my friends love the most. There are some fruits I cannot eat without being overwhelmed with intense feelings of nostalgia. For example, I cannot casually enjoy a passion fruit because it’s not possible to separate the tartness of the fruit from the memories of someone I used to love.
I’ve always loved sharing fruit. My love for it grows stronger as I become more comfortable with the idea of belonging. I’m still navigating how to share my feelings in real time, especially with those that I care deeply about. I share fruit with friends and significant others, and I also happily share fruit with strangers. Someone offered me a coffee cup full of grapes yesterday while reading in the Labor Resource Center on campus. I’ve seen this person on several occasions in the office but we never really had a conversation until then. They offered me the grapes and I almost melted, this is the exact moment I live for. I share fruit as a way of telling those around me how much I care about them, or simply that I am happy to be in their presence.
I was going to loop this conversation about fruit back into the sacredness of another person’s kitchen, but I’m going to save that for another day. These posts have become random musings about the serendipitous moments and unexpected conversations that occur over the course of a single day. My decision to write happens organically — whenever and wherever the inspiration hits. Yesterday, I wrote about pencils while commuting on the red line. I’m currently writing this in a bathrobe since the wave of inspiration hit me after noticing a clementine on my desk right after taking a shower. These posts are both rough and final drafts. I’m sure they all have typos scattered around, or sentences that might be repeated, but I’m enjoying the process. I suppose I always have a lot to say and I’m really working on navigating those thoughts in the moment. Anyway, I have a lot of feelings about kitchens and I’d like to think on it more.
Someone asked me last night about my affinity for sharing fruit and I didn’t exactly have an answer for them. I never questioned it because it just felt so natural. Like, once I recognized how intimate the act of sharing fruit can be, I realized that it felt like returning to a space where forming relationships wasn’t so scary. I dunno, it’s kinda endearing to think (at least I hope) that everyone has that one niche act of kindness. For me, it will always offering you a clementine as a little reminder that I am delighted to know you.
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I rarely have people in my personal space lately not because it’s messy but because it represents my most truest self; and in the last 2 years I’ve been cautious of that. But when I did have people over I loved just having them be guests in my kitchen and I would cook and make things for them… I love kitchens and memories they hold. I remember being so wired on coffee and running around them making something crazy like a raguvegtable soup to just be frozen. I really do enjoy your writing. Keep them up, maybe I’ll share someday too.
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I totally get that. I think I spent wayyyyy too much time in the “nesting phase” right after moving in so inviting people into my space feels really personal too. Haha if you ever make some soup, I’ll trade you some fruit!!