My mom’s kitchen is a safe haven. Soft yellow walls and granite countertops are peppered with magazines and to-do lists and art. We live in that kitchen, receipts and mail strewn across the island, stained recipe cards and freshly baked cookies and always a candle. Pictures drawn by my childhood best friends—rather quirky pieces—have been proudly sticky-tacked to the cabinets for at least a decade. The floors are worn from dog paw-plodding and scraping chairs. Picture windows look out onto common ground and rows of trees and families of deer I used to name. There’s a warm spot on the floor in front of the refrigerator—my favorite spot to think. It’s where I sat and chose a college and cried over my first breakup and held my dogs in my lap when they were puppies.
We sit in the barstools and sing. We eat glazed orange breakfast rolls and cheesy scrambled eggs, drink the first steaming coffee of the day and the last gulp of wine at night. The garage eases open and my dad comes through the back door with his briefcase, home from a long day of work, but never too tired to greet the two furry wagging tails at his ankles. There is soup in the Dutch oven; a ladle spoons it into our favorite bowls, the ones my parents got as a wedding gift. Familiar music hums through the speaker in the corner as sunlight pours over the collection of plants in the bay window. Bubbles float up from the stainless steel sink as my mom scrubs an endless pile of dishes.
I hear my friends’ laughter and remember the hours we’ve spent discussing school and books and world travels. The teary goodbyes and equally teary reunions, the countless hugs and lunchtimes of hummus and turkey sandwiches and “Will you stay for dinner” questions always met with a “Yes!” Hands wrapped around a nighttime decaf coffee, conversations at midnight sitting on the counter eating chocolate sheet cake, too caught up in laughter to think about going to sleep at a reasonable hour.
The older we get, the more serious our kitchen conversations become. We cry over change and mourn life-altering loss, knowing the kitchen is a safe place to fall apart. We sit and actually plan the weddings we dreamed up in middle school. We mull over all that’s changed in our lives: the broken friendships, the new jobs and apartments, the dreams lost and the historical family drama, and we are understood. It’s home base, our reset when we all come together from our different corners of the world. And time in my mom’s kitchen reminds us what we’ve known all along: no matter what else in life is shifting, we will always have each other (and unparalleled homemade chocolate chip cookies).
Olivia graduated from Calvin in May 2018 with a double major in business and writing. She now works as an editor in Nashville, Tennessee and is eating her way through the restaurants of her new town. She enjoys weekend trips with friends, petting other people’s dogs, and drinking coffee like a Gilmore Girl.