“Some kind of ugly, unaware of what I had become and into my life darkness crept.” Jomo Morris
So I’ve moved from one kitchen to another; I had to fight hard to get that job. A year in this position and then the horrible realization that I would never be promoted. I waited and waited and hoped. I went to work each day and pushed my frustration deeper inside. I sought answers, I asked questions, but each day as I clocked in for work, my shame for what I had become, deepened. There was no love; no joy in cooking here, my enthusiasm became ash and gray. I was cooking for money, and into my life darkness crept. I was angry with my chefs, but why should they care? Cooks are easily replaced like an oil change every three thousand miles. The kitchen is relentless, it uses, it pulls you in, and when it has sucked the juices from the shell, it spits you out, for someone younger, more naïve and hopeful. Six months of trolling the internet, scheming and planning, spurts of optimism, bouts of depression. How do I convey being trapped in a job. Yes, I could leave, but my electric company won’t accept pride as payment. I forced myself to stay, even as my job had become a windowless room. Claustrophobic, I could not breathe, I didn’t look forward to waking up and going to work, I was lost. Endless days into nights, the same station, the same people, I wanted to scream, I couldn’t stand the smell of sweat and old shoes in the locker room. My paycheck made me sad, I was depressed, and darkness creeps. But I kept on applying, I was determined to find a way out, my mind was set. I was becoming desperate. And then my perseverance paid off. Salvation? A better pay rate? This could be mine, depends, can you pass these interviews? I did, then the final test, to prove I really wanted this job – cook for it. Three hours, five courses, a strange kitchen. Where were the pots and pans, a whisk? Imagine trying to run a marathon in church shoes. I was afraid. I had worked till 11:30 pm the night before, then up at six am, to be there for 8am. I’ve moved on, and I’m happier for it. Each day is a struggle to keep the darkness at bay. It’s a fight, I hope I’ll win. I look at the scars on my hands – at what I’ve become – the latticework of burns on my forearms and I pray for courage and strength. The courage to open my eyes each morning and the strength to persevere until the next.