It’s been an unusual year compared to most of my life, but from April 2017 to April 2018, that time period has been one of the absolute years of my life. I’m choosing this time period to evaluate because for the past 2 years, my life has been put back onto a school schedule for the first time since I graduated high school.
My wife and I got married just before she began grad school to attain her Master’s degree (and she just did!!!) We moved across the country from the Vancouver area to London, Ontario so that she could attend the University of Western Ontario. The day after we arrived in London, I had an interview at Western and was hired as a cook in one of the residences.
I didn’t realize just how amazing my time here would be, and how much I would come to absolutely love my job and my coworkers in such a short time. Both years were amazing, but our first year was filled with so many new things, like a new province, job, school, and church, not to mention it was our first year together as a married couple and learning to live together.
Last April when the school year ended, we found ourselves moving back to Medicine Hat, Alberta. My wife had a co-op job there for the summer, and I got the summer off for the first time since I was 16. It was absolutely wonderful, exploring the city and falling in love with a great community. We had so many summer adventures together, and enjoyed every minute of it. There’s going to be a post on this very soon! We moved back to London at the end of the summer and I was excited to get back to work for my second year, and that’s where things really took off.
I talked with every one of the students day after day, developing relationships with every student, and with many of them, I knew exactly what they wanted in their food, no matter what the dish was. I knew their individual likes and dislikes. Many times, I didn’t even need to ask what they wanted, I just started cooking. I loved seeing the smile on their faces when they knew I recognized what they wanted.
I love talking and engaging with people, and I truly enjoyed speaking with every student and doing my best to make their residence feel like a comfortable and happy piece of home in a very stressful and confusing first year of university.
I have now worked my last shift there, as we are about to move home to BC. This last week was incredibly bitter sweet as I said my goodbyes to everyone. I can truly say that I have never felt more loved in my entire life. Who would have ever guessed that a bunch of first year university students would end up bonding so well with the guy who cooks their food on a daily basis. When you look at the surface, that’s all I am. I’m just a cook.
When I was 15, I worked for one summer as a kitchen helper at a small camp on an island off the coast of Vancouver. The head cook told me that I should become a cook because it was clear I had a passion for it. I laughed, saying that I had bigger plans for my life. I didn’t want to be “just a cook”.
Although I have been a cook for 10 years at this point, I don’t think I ever truly realized how much of an impact I could have on people while just doing my job until this year. Food is something that really brings people together and you can always tell when something is prepared with care and love. Since I knew exactly who I was cooking for, I wanted to make sure it was absolutely perfect. I hated any mistakes that I made, and I worked very hard to make sure that everyone was happy.
My coworkers have been amazing as well this past year. Knowing and loving them has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. Every day was a joy and I loved everyone, which definitely made my last day very hard to get through without crying. I felt at home when I worked with them, and I will deeply miss them all.
Over this April to April period, I also lost 114 pounds. It was like I not only got more comfortable with my new job, I also continued to get more comfortable in my own body. While my personality was already there, it was like I really broke free of anything holding me back. The more weight I lost and the more blog posts I wrote, the more free I felt.
My blog has been another amazing aspect of this year. Starting to write my feelings down for all to read has made me feel amazing. I realize that I can easily share anything with anyone, and I love that people want to listen to the things I have to say. I have felt more growth in myself this year than in any other, and although I am sad to leave, I am really excited to see what comes next.