Two (Servings of Pumpkin Chili) is Better Than One. Ikea Told Me So.

Pumpkin chili

I thought about finding an Ikea employee who could help take down the box containing the pieces of what would soon be my new TV cabinet, but no, I had to do this on my own. At 51 pounds, 5 feet long and piled five boxes high on a shelf reaching my shoulder the cabinet was probably going to win. Another customer searching out a cabinet or table farther along the same aisle stopped to offer help. Easily, without any apparent effort, all on his own he grabbed the box and placed it on the cart. Showoff.

Getting the cabinet down myself was a pre-test. Passing it meant that carrying it into my second floor apartment wouldn’t be a problem. Not completing it wasn’t the same thing as failing, or so I told myself after pulling into my apartment’s parking lot. I wrapped one arm around the box’s bottom and the other at the side and started. Slowly and steadily. And I made it all the way to the foot of the stairs before setting it down on the short end. There I breathed, gathered my courage and the box again and started up the shaky, concrete stairs. At the top I set it down once more to open the door before carrying the box inside. I passed. The other option was to set up my living area in the courtyard which seemed to have several marks against it.

I took out all the pieces, guessing what was a side, front, top, shelf, leg — that’s an easy one, and stood back to admire my progress. Then I found the directions. I opened them to page one. In the first drawing all the cabinet pieces were in a pile with a person standing behind, frowning. Through it all was a big X. In the second drawing the cabinet was put together, the person from the first was smiling and next to him was a second smiling person. He even held onto a hammer, or maybe it was a screwdriver, to show that he was a helper.

I didn’t have a second person. There wouldn’t be anyone to help me put together my new cabinet because I am single. Sure, I could call friends, but it was Wednesday afternoon when most are at work and chances are they had plans anyway so getting someone to come over would involve scheduling and feeling obligated and the cabinet pieces sitting in a pile on my floor until then.

It’s not something I talk about much — being single — because then it would be become an identity — of the blog, of me. That’s not what I want. Being surrounded by friends and family still means I am on my own. Most everything I do, I do alone and I try not to do less because of it, but there are times when living on your own is worthy of a sigh. You will always have to spend a day off to take your car into the dealership. You will be the only one to take the dog outside. The only one to drag the old box spring to the dumpster after buying a platform bed frame. You will be the only one to go to the store for medicine and stomach-able foods no matter how sick you are.

Some cooking is best done alone, some recipes are easiest to make in small amounts. Some, like Pumpkin Chili, will only make a large amount. This dish has a longish list of perishable ingredients that come in pre-packaged sizes. The alternative was to eat lots of different dishes all made with the same ingredients. This option seemed to have several marks against it. You will be eating Pumpkin Chili for the next four dinners. Fortunately, it is delicious. I wish I had made this dish sooner, but even so I still gave a little cheer as I heated up the last of the leftover.

I don’t often make large quantities of any one dish for just these reasons. I put together the cabinet all on my own no matter what Ikea said. It was easier than the smaller, lighter metal shelving I purchased the same day that didn’t require two people. I put on one of its legs backwards and the whole shelf toppled down on top of my head. For several days after I smiled every time I looked at my new cabinet.

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