Now why did I have to go ahead and make that New Year’s resolution that I would stop talking about my kitchen renovation all the time? If I hadn’t done that, I could be telling you about how awesomely great it is turning out.
I could be announcing that the oak floors have been installed and beautifully refinished, the gleaming quartz countertops have gone in, the gorgeous backsplash tiling is about to commence, my contractor is working his way down to details, and by the time this is in print, I could be cooking in a nearly completed showpiece of a kitchen that will leave you drooling with envy.
It is too bad that I can’t devote this column to obsessing about the custom copper hood, the espresso-colored cherry cabinets, the antique copper cabinet handles, the under-counter lights and power outlets, the garbage can that pops out with a bump of my knee and the clever hidden baseboard storage spot for my stepladder.
But a resolution is a resolution.
So instead of writing about my wonderful new kitchen, instead I am forced to write about something else.
The bad old one, which is haunting me like a phantom.
I wish it would go away and leave me alone. I don’t miss a thing about it, from its clunky white painted cabinets to its white tile countertops to its white tile floor. (What kind of an idiot puts a white tile floor in a kitchen? Clearly, the former owners of my house never cooked. They wouldn’t have had time, what with needing to mop every 10 minutes.)
I don’t mourn its passing the least little bit, but it doesn’t want to move on to wherever it is that dead kitchens go. It has burrowed deep into my muscle memory and is refusing to walk into the light.
I know the problem is all in my head.
I have always had the kind of memory that is spatial, rather than visual. At work, my desk might have looked like a mess, but I could find anything on it, as long as no one moved it. (“That memo? It’s on the left side of the desk about half an inch down in that second pile.”)
It turns out, the same thing is (or was) true for my old kitchen. I knew the location of every pan, utensil, spice and ingredient. When I needed something, my body would automatically pivot to the spot where I had seen it last.
The kitchen scale? It’s in the lowest drawer, next to the cake cutter, the box of fancy chopsticks and the carving knife set. Turmeric? It’s in a jar near the back of the second spice drawer, behind the Aleppo pepper and to the left of the black cardamom pods. The small muffin tin? It’s in the drawer on the bottom left side of the stove under the broiler, along with the broiling pan and the Silpat.
A few months ago, I knew the location of every item in my extensive collection. And I still do.
Except none of those places exist anymore.
All my stuff has been packed up in boxes in the guest bedroom since construction began. And I packed it all myself, so I should have known where it was. But even so, in the past two months, every time I needed an item I had stowed there, I instead found myself walking to the kitchen and looking for the drawer or shelf that was no more.
Now that I’m starting to move back into the shiny new kitchen and the boxes are being emptied, I am happily rediscovering those inaccessible cooking tools and finding new places for them.
Theoretically, that’s a good thing. After all, I planned this kitchen and I know where I imagined everything going, so it should all be logical.
But the Ghost of Kitchen Past keeps getting in the way and messing with my mind. I still find myself reaching for nonexistent drawers, and opening the wrong cabinets when I need something. I’m hoping that my muscles and brain will start learning the new geography soon. But it’s hard with the specter of the old kitchen hanging around.
I’m going to give it a few weeks, in the hope that getting back to cooking will reset my patterns and finally drive away the undead. If that doesn’t do it, I may need to plan a dinner party/exorcism.
Just in case, I’m working on the evite now.
Do you happen to have a current email address for the Ghostbusters?
I’m not providing a recipe today, as I am still unpacking and not back to cooking yet. I can give you some diet advice, though. Try packing up everything you own, then living in one room with just a microwave and frozen prepared foods for two months.
After a week or two of those tasty treats, my taste buds went on strike and I lost all interest in food. It was depressing, but on the bright side, I dropped 4 pounds during the renovation.
I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to gaining them back.