After the War

I’m going to shimmy out on a limb here and guess that you’ve had hot chocolate before. Real hot chocolate, I mean — the kind that starts with a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, a pile of pricey dark chocolate, and a waterfall of whole milk. (Over medium-low heat.)

That’s how it starts. This is how it ends, if you follow the directions and/or your mom on speakerphone. It ends in mug that makes you think of roaring fireplaces, red pajamas, fuzzy slippers, gently falling snow, and perpetually cuddly puppies. So basically an L.L.Bean magazine, asterisk: ALL OF THE MEN WHO DO NOT EXIST.


It’s okay. Eyes on the prize.

What’s important is that you don’t forget the vanilla or the sea salt, and you wind up with something gloriously ganache-like. In a vehicle which you’re then able to bring up to your lips.

On the off chance that you’ve also spent the last twenty-odd years living in fear of exactly how many calories could be lurking in a cup of hot chocolate…I have a fun experiment for you. Stick a spoon down into the center of your mug. Does it stick straight up, without any help from the walls? Does it?? YES?! I am so proud of you.

Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come. I get so stuck on how far there is to go, still, and I just forget.


But can I tell you how nice it is, to be less food-obsessed?

This gets a little convoluted, because up until a few months ago, I thought food was just my passion. I thought it went with the territory. People who want to be food writers generally like restaurants. They enjoy cooking. They follow food blogs. They Instagram pretty plates. They like skillfully styled photos.


And…my last three jobs, which includes my only two “real” jobs, have been in the food industry. Most of my mentors still sit squarely in that sphere. They’re food editors, food photographers, cookbook authors, professional chefs, and food entrepreneurs. I moved to New York — which I would never do again — to pursue a career in food.

But the point is: I don’t dream of food the way I once did. Now that I’m not so hungry all of the time, I have room for all of these other thoughts. All of these different dreams.


And I love having them. Even if they never go anywhere, even if I never amount to anything, I love that my world feels bigger. I love that I’ve stopped looking at life solely through the lens of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I don’t know when this shift happened, exactly. Maybe it was as early as a year ago, when I gave up trying to make this blog a food blog. Maybe it was as recent as last month, when I noticed I hadn’t posted anything food-related to Instagram in ages.


Maybe it was as fresh as yesterday, when I sat in therapy and said: I don’t think I can return to the food industry. [Or the fitness industry, for that matter.] I think I’m going to have to find something else.

Or maybe it was only just this afternoon, when I took my first sip of hot chocolate and thought: okay, what next?


“You are not the heaviness sitting inside of you. You are not the battlefield where the bodies fall. You are not the sound of cannons breaking the sky open. You are what happens after the war. The surviving. The healing. The rebuilding.”-Y.Z, For the Bad Nights

{Dreamy-dream-dream cabin via @alexstrohl on Instagram. Now that I prefer to look at cabins over cupcakes.}


5 thoughts on “After the War

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