I first listened to Alicia Keys in a secluded college cafe. Every time I hear her sing I think of those days. You see, I went to a rather large university of over 30,000 students and a half a dozen undergraduate colleges. Each of my core classes had at least 200 students each. Every few days I would make my way over to this secluded campus and attempt to do my homework, learn a theorem, write a paper, read a chapter, you know. This was before wifi.
And I would be alone. So I would eat. Whenever anxiety gnawed at me, little did I understand that I could nourish her with a workout, an hour with a writing tutor, or an hour co-working with a friend. A coach??? They were for the popular athletic kids. A tutor??? But I know how to write and study! Studying *with* someone? Whom?
So I ate. Being vegetarian, I mostly ate bagels. Lots of bagels. Bad bagels, fresh bagels. Bagels with butter. Bagels with cream cheese.
This continued years later in graduate school. I would go to a local cafe to procrastinate — I thought I was being productive (long hours at the cost of everything else = success, right??). Many days I smoked, too.
Fast forward to today. In times of anxiety, I find a secluded cafe where no one knows me and I eat. I drink fancier coffee, eat real bagels, and vegan pastries. But I eat. Sometimes I light a cigarette, but mostly I just eat.
The next few days are an attempt to actively turn each eating opportunity into an exercise opportunity. A healthy meals opportunity. A nap opportunity. A phone a friend opportunity. My work will go on in chunks of 2 hours. I will eat, but with loved ones — amidst laughter and a beautiful memory.