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Food and Home

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Instant oatmeal.

Surprisingly, I prefer Quaker’s flavored instant oatmeal over anything else. My family has criticized me for this opinion. But I will uphold my loyalty regardless.

For all of high school, I was a transfer student. This meant that my eyes shot open to an alarm at 4:30 and I often couldn’t return home to collapse on the couch in my living room until 6:00 at the very earliest. I certainly could have gotten an extra hour of sleep and made it to my bus stop in a hurry. But this would have meant a rushed breakfast. Little time to get ready. Running out the door.

That extra hour, frankly, was not worth it.

I have always been an early riser. Even in elementary and middle school, I gave myself an hour of quiet time, in the stillness of the early morning. Before even my parents rose, I would sit in my kitchen, watching an episode of Saved by the Bell and drinking tea.

The ritual continued into high school. I gave myself an hour to eat slowly, quietly, and in solitude. But this time with oatmeal.

I started seeing my breakfast as an opportunity to be creative. The rest of my day was busy, fast-paced, and I couldn’t often enjoy my food. So I began to enjoy oatmeal. I would cut up fruit, choose various nut butters, occasionally sprinkle granola, experiment with various spices and other toppings, and occasionally even mix oatmeal flavors.

This became my sacred time. Time before I reviewed my schedule for the day, before I checked my email, before I hurriedly grabbed clothes for working in our school’s lab, before I sat on a cold bus for an hour, before I arrived at school and often studied for whatever assessment I would have to take later that day.

Now in Charlottesville, my oatmeal is eaten in a hurry. It is plain and made in a pink plastic bowl. It is eaten with spoons from the dining hall. Yet it still brings to mind the comfort and respite that solitude in my house provided.

Perhaps oatmeal brings to mind the struggles of school. The sleepy eyes struggling to stay open, the stresses of tests, and the science projects that demanded hours of research and lab-time each week. It brings to mind how wonderful moments of rest truly felt. My breakfast was the calm before the storm, as I enjoyed the quiet of my home and the way the house felt safe.

Making my oatmeal was a simple thing. It was not the most delicious breakfast I could have had. But it has, somehow, made me appreciative of moments of rest and moments in my home, in the quiet.