Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Katie X
Leeds, UK
Email Katie



I was born in one of the industrial-revolution towns in Northern England. The kind of place that the Romans named, peasants farmed, and nobility and monks built places to live in, but wasn't home to more than a few thousand people until bright sparks invented mills and railways. Miners were striking and Chernobyl blew a fortnight or so after I was born. My mother kept me inside for a while, following warnings about newborns and fallout. I still reckon that's why I'm so pale.
If I'd been born six hours earlier I would've been given a different name. The previous day would've aligned me with a relative I never met. I often wonder whether I would be a different person in any way if I'd made my debut any quicker, it's hard to chart the influence of what we're called. It's a name I reckon I may have been bullied for as a child, but as an emerging adult with the same name as my flatmate, I can respect (and perhaps envy) the fact it's a little off-centre.
We can chart our lives in many ways. In terms of geography, people or on lines on a doorframe (my parents never did that though). Food is probably as good a place as any to start. As I child I would steal my Nana's ice-cream cone off her as I sat on her lap, and promptly wipe it all over my face. My thieving eye must have developed before my hand-eye co-ordination. As many children do, I had food-phases where I would get obsessions.
-Heinz "Big Soup" (chicken and vegetable).
Which I would beg my childminder to give me. She would say I needed a change every day but I reckon she was worried my parents would accuse her of malnutrition. I was just jealous because the boy she looked after with me had dietary requirements (which I didn't understand and can't remember) and got his meals carefully planned and prepared. I still vividly remember overhearing a phone conversation of hers at the age of about 2 or 3 where she kept saying "bloody hell". I had no idea what the phrase meant, my mind raced about what the caller could possibly be describing and I was terrified.
-Salami sandwiches on white bread.
Which upset my stomach (I reckoned: worth it). They still remind me of a school trip to the Viking museum in York. I learnt about warp and weft.
-Chicken Supreme (school recipe).
I was at the same school from the ages of 3 to 18. I noticed as I moved through the different parts of school (3-7, 7-11, 11-18) that the recipe changed each time. A few more "bits" and stronger flavours. It changed with me as I grew. More like an old friend than a true favourite I suppose. A meal I ate for 15 years. Which leads me to wonder, at 19, how much of my body is made out of school dinners? It must be at least a hand, if not an entire arm or more. One-third of my dietary intake for 15 years must amount to something. We had a teacher called Miss Shepherd when I was about 4 or 5. I thought (logically) she had something to do with the Shepherd's pie and was impressed she cooked as well a being a teacher.
Now living and studying in London, (a place where you can eat anything, anytime) and in charge of my own upkeep I have come to one of my first big realisations: no matter how good a chef you are, everything tastes better if you didn't cook it yourself. I think I can taste my own effort somehow. This despite the enjoyment I get from cooking. I have just bought a blender and have convinced myself it doesn't fit into the category affected by my "irrational" fear of power tools. Electrified effort may also be easier on the palate. I have yet to use it...but I will.