When I was about 17 I remember thinking secretly that I could name three very specific things that I believed would improve my life: having an Australian accent, being able to play the guitar, and knowing how to cook. Partly because they are admittedly silly goals and partly because I’ve never been much for self-improvement, I didn’t actively pursue any of them.
When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me two very rad graduation gifts. My dad, ever the outdoorsman, took me canoeing on the Merrimack River. My mom, who in bygone days was the lead singer of a band in Germany, gave me her guitar. She’d had it since she was twelve (or something like that).
A few years later I found myself living in New York City and in love. He was (or rather “is”, but since I’m talking about the past, I’ll commit to past tense - if that’s okay with you) Australian. And with the lovely Australian came this bit on unknown culture shock:
When I saw Kath and Kim for the first time, the skies opened up and poured heavenly angels unto me. Australia’s delicious self-deprecation mixed with brilliant writing and hidden jokes... it was the perfect brand of comedy for me. Kath and Kim is the reason I still have a VCR player. I’m now officially their Number One Fan – and am Sharon Strezlecky’s second best friend, odviously. The relationship ended, but the accent lived on.
Years later and I still couldn’t cook. Once, I almost burnt down an entire dormitory of high school girls by attempting to toast bread – so I start to think it’s possible I could be been working through a PTSD block. I had three roommates and countless friends who would try and teach me how to cook and still nothing. When I watched Julie & Julia for the first time, I was seething with jealousy.
And then one day, I woke up and knew how to cook. I don’t know how to explain what happened, but all of the information that everyone had tried to impart upon me flooded my soul as I slept – and I woke up and made Eggs Benedict. And then I made Fried Chicken, and Mushroom and Tofu Pot Pie, and Ratatouille and Vegan Stuffed Peppers and Enchiladas Molé and met a man and fell in love.
And now I cook for him. I’m still a beginner when it comes to the guitar, but I can play a handful of songs and what I know, I play for him. The accent is now a habit, which he pretends to be annoyed by but obviously loves.
If I had known definitively that in only 10 years, I’d obtain the three things that I could name and want at that moment in time, perhaps I’d ask for something else. Cheesy and cliché as it is, I imagine the first would be to meet the person of my dreams. It seems instruments, and accents, and ovens brought me to the same place. Funny how circular, how invisibly musical this life can be.