There are a number of things in this world that make me feel insecure. Overhead luggage bins, for example, or the pressure of a waiter asking if I know what I want — just once I would like to have the confidence to order a meal at a restaurant without re-opening the menu.
But I never thought lasagna would be on that list.
Every night, I step off my elevator and straight into olfactory bliss courtesy of my neighbor’s cooking. The first night, it was nice! Who doesn’t want to be greeted by the smell of a home-cooked meal? The second night, it made me hungry. I just hope she didn’t notice as I awkwardly pressed my face against the door and deeply inhaled the sweet perfume of chocolate and chip.
After that, however, the aromatic onslaught started to chip away at my self-confidence little by little. Lingering vapors from the aforementioned lasagna mocked my fingers as they tap tap tapped my sushi order into seamless. Whiffs of freshly baked scones stalked me as I carried my burnt clumps of corn muffin to the trash compactor. The sizzle of a wok and the scent of homemade Pad See Ewe brought back terrifying memories of the great Pad See Eww disaster of 2011.
As the weeks wore on, those smells became an ongoing nightly reminder that I don’t always measure up to the standards I set for my adult self at some point between age 0 and age now. My adult self should know how to change a flat tire. My adult self should not have New Years Resolutions that involve meeting her favorite celebrity or getting a bartender to wear a funny hat. My adult self should not be able to name at least three people who blame her culinary “talents” for temporary gastrointestinal “problems.” Of course these are totally arbitrary standards, but they’re lodged in my brain, and extricating them is all but impossible.
However, tonight, I had a little victory. I pulled my frozen pizza out of the oven and walked downstairs to get my laundry before dinner. When I got back, the whole hallway smelled delicious. Italian herbs and spices, Fresh mozzarella. Hand-crafted artisan crust. All coming from my apartment.
I had prepared a meal that I wanted to eat, and I made my hallway smell like Italy. That is something to be proud of, regardless of if I did it the way I thought I “should.”
That said, maybe my adult self shouldn’t be taking life lessons from DiGiorno.