Marmalade was different. It was made on a Saturday after I’d said farewell to nine people and while I waited for others to finish packing so we could watch tv together for the last time.
The citrus fruit had been sitting in a plastic bag for a few days waiting to be used. I was meant to cook the maramalade with friends but that didn’t work out because packing up to leave takes longer than expected.
So I worked on it by myself as my flatmates came in and out of the kitchen to distract me. And I guess that’s alright. These friends will in my life even when they can’t be there in person.
I suppose marmalade is a pretty transparent metaphor. A jam but not quite, given a different name because it’s a slightly different thing. The people who I called flatmates I now call my friends. Because there’ll be just a slight difference.
When you don’t want to say good bye you say farewell, hug, wave one last time and then make jam at 4am with all the people who also can’t process the emotions caused by someone’s absence.
We started with strawberry jam, and then started to make a mixed berry jam. We were in for the long haul. Not ready to go back to bed. While waiting for the fruit to simmer I noticed the baileys sitting a top the fridge with a bow around its neck. As if it was a gift saying ‘drink me’. And what was the harm, I was drowning in sorrow anyway, why not add a drink?
I added three. Baileys, Prosecco and Limoncello make an interesting combination. Not enough to get me drunk but enough to make me warm and soft. Less hard edges to cut other people with.
And the alcohol made one friend more confident. Sharing what she usually only says to one person with the whole room. I love looking after my friends and looking after drunk friends is no exception.
There a certain honesty in the kind of drunk someone gets when they’re melancholy. A certain way people reveal what is truly important and valuable to them.
And at 6am with a few drinks, some preserves and some good friends who were also trying to say goodbye a few hours after our friend had gone I knew that what I value is their presence in my life.
Unconditionally and with no limit of if they’re there in person or simply through messages and postcards. Because we’re never saying goodbye. We’re always going to be saying farewell over jam.
I am a student. I have a student budget. I live in student accomodation. Our student kitchen has two stoves and of the two stoves there is always one out of order. Our student kitchen has two traffic cones, one of which we named Albert, the other still doesn’t have a name. In our student kitchen we have red tubs, one red tub for each student. We keep our groceries in our tubs until we have time to cook a student meal. Our student groceries are usually from Aldi, Iceland or Home Bargains. Bulk ingredients for a bulk amount of students. Bulk ingredients to make a bulk meal that can be split into multiple tuperware containers (read ‘cheap take-away containers’) to go into the freezer so the student can eat it later when they forget that cooking a meal takes time.
Students aren’t great at looking afterourselves. We’re all learning too much and learning to care for themselves is just another thing students have to add to the list of things to revise. Caring for themselves is the first class students drop out of when they get too busy with chemistry, or music theory, or translation classes, or sports science, or teaching, or clubs. Students need someone to teach us to be better students because these student budgets and student kitchens and student meals and student exhaustions are not healthy.