When I met Jen, I didn’t like her.
Not actually. But I didn’t like how she made me feel. Behind, inexperienced, and so uncool it was painful. Of course, this had nothing to do with her or her actions towards me, and everything to do with myself. And my insecurities. It was a new job, I was still unhappy in SC, everyone else in that kitchen knew the rhythm and how things worked. How they worked. I didn’t. And it killed me not knowing.
There were inside jokes I wasn’t a part of, techniques I’d never heard of before, a storage system in the fridge that was entirely new to me. Next to her – tall, blonde, round blue eyes behind the hippest glasses – I felt as if I could bathe in a thimble. And often wanted to hide under one during my shifts.
My dislike for her was solidified the day she showed me how to make gnocchi (something I’d never done before, phony food connoisseur that I was). Her technique was simple and quick and almost effortless. She was as fluid as the water simmering between us. I was green with envy at her abilities. During conversation, I found out she was a few years younger than me and turned the deepest shade of forest. I felt so behind, she seemed so ahead.
And then, one day, she messed up. She left granola in the oven too long. Way too long. It was burnt. Charred. Inedible. She’d ruined a dish.