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Tales of the Starter Kitchen

He stands in the kitchen chopping Brussels sprouts for dinner. Beside him, on the miniscule counter, a couple of other cutting boards are covered in chopped vegetables. The sprouts are seasoned and oiled and ready to go into the oven when the tray slips from his hands and somersaults through the air, leaving cut, oiled Brussels sprouts all over the white tile floor.

This is a common occurrence in our starter kitchen. In our starter home. At the beginning of our lives together.

The house we’re renting is adorable, but it was built in the 1940s and, if the kitchen is any indication, families in those days were accustomed to much less space. Compared to the large bedroom and living room, the kitchen feels uncomfortably small, especially in a household that enjoys preparing elaborate meals.. We end up juggling trays, using the dining table (and sometimes, unintentionally, the floor) as an auxiliary counter, squeezing uncomfortably past each other as we balance steaming pots and heaped bowls, strategizing about how to keep dishes warm while heating one pot at a time on the narrow stove.

On the days that making dinner  seems like a time-consuming chore, or on the days that I wish cooking could be an intimate activity in which we stood side-by-side and prepared food together, I curse our tiny kitchen. On the days that I wish meal prep could go faster, I wish we had more space. More room between the fridge and the oven, more room to put things on the counter, more room to hang up a print, more room, more room, more room…

But then he shakes his head and says, “One day, when we have kids, we’ll have a story to tell them.”

When I think about it that way, I find that my thinking becomes more grateful and less greedy. I am able to laugh when food falls all over the floor. I find it easier to marvel at my mad skills in being able to prep (especially for many people) in such a small space. Sure, it may take longer, but I know how to cook and I have my own kitchen, and isn’t that something of a blessing?