commuter series #5
The first sentence of this vignette popped into my head as I was driving to NJ over Labor Day weekend. Lately I’ve been trying to challenge myself to write in different voices and I think I was successful with this one. Although it came out more as an imitation of the house on mango street, it’s a place to start.
Fish Sauce and Chicken Grease
I hate the way our kitchen smells. A combination of dried up fish sauce and chicken grease. The kind of smell that won’t rub out of countertops and cabinets. The kind that lingers in between stacked plates, under the sink, on the floor until it sticks to your tsinelas, or worse, your feet.
I never lead my friends into the kitchen. I don’t want them to smell it and think I’m dirty like that. Or that my family’s dirty, like what they say about immigrants. We are immigrants, but we’re clean. I shower. Everyone in my family takes showers. Every day.
When I go to a friends’ kitchen I imagine what my future kitchen will look and smell like. Granite counter tops like the one Mrs. Woodburn rolls out the dough for the cookies. Or the steel fridge with the automatic ice dispenser in Marisa’s house. It’ll be the envy of the neighborhood. It’ll always smell like good food–like Thanksgiving. Food that smells delicious but won’t get on your clothes. So I don’t always have to change.
Mom says I should be proud that I share the scent of my people, that the food she cooks is one of the few ways to keep our home in our hearts.
But she doesn’t understand. I don’t want to smell like our kitchen. I don’t want to be linked to it. My kitchen is never going to smell like that. There’ll be no grease stains on the wall and on pots. My kitchen’s going to be spotless. And stainless. No one will ever know I learned to cook in anything less.