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Updated: Apr 25, 2020

This week I cooked a dish that called for pressed garlic. I strategically pressed my knife which sat on top of it, peeled it and pressed it some more until there was just a little juice and residue around the garlic. Then I smelled my hands, and solemnly smiled to myself.

You see, my Mom's hands always smelled, and I hated it. Turns out it was from the garlic she used when cooking. She cooked three square meals a day for our family everyday. Sometimes she bestowed me permission to practice some dishes, but the kitchen was definitely her domain.

What I would do to go back in time and have her near me with with those smelly hands. To smell the pollo guisado con arroz cooking in the kitchen, the carne guisada and the fried chicken. What I'd give to go back to the safety and carefree days of my youth. In present day, I am so grateful she is still living. But what I’d give to sit in her living room and chat instead of visiting her from a distance. Oh what I’d do to give her a warm embrace con cariño.

That whiff of garlic also got me thinking about “what ifs”. What if, I could go back in time? At what point and place would I make a change? After a few moments of smelling my hands and thinking, it didn’t take me long to identify that point in time.

I imagined the exact moment where I would have veered, and the "whispers" I would have listened to instead of the fear that was screaming at me.

Why is the fear so much louder than the "whispers" sometimes?

Our current pandemic situation has invoked this stuck feeling in me, but also this feeling of release. It's a weird limbo. On the surface it seems like it may not be a good time to make a big change or start something, but the "whispers" ask me, what CAN I do now? And what CAN I do after? Then I wonder, how will I be different? Will my life get so hectic again that any and all "whispers" are drowned with day to day minutiae?

Then I feel just a little overwhelmed and a knot in my neck begins to throb.

I take a deep breath and I rub my hands together, again, and take another big whiff....and this time I smile with decisiveness.

I think I'm going to cook with garlic more often.

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