My parents use la olla atómica for everything. Lentils, meats, potatoes, chickpeas, the kernels for mazamorra. Everything goes into the pressure cooker. My dad will inevitably ask, “cuanto tiempo ha estao pitando?” and my mom will say that it only just started whistling and to give it a few minutes. When I was younger, I would tip-toe past it because I thought that if I was too heavy-footed, it would explode. To this day, its screech eeeeeeeeeee! makes my heart skip a few beats.
One day, back on Sylvian Street, a BOOM! rang throughout the apartment. I met my mother in the tiny kitchen, and found her wide-eyed, looking up at the ceiling. I found a blob of beans clinging for its life and water dripping down the cabinet drawers and puddling at our feet. I looked at my mother, she looked back at me, and I know we were both thinking the same thing: What the fuck are we going to do with this mess?
Am I the olla? The frijoles? Or am I the mother and daughter duo, coming to the realization that this shit is messy and won’t be easy to clean up? I’m not sure. But when I was thinking of a way to explain how I sometimes feel lately, that particular memory came to mind. It’s a feeling that is overwhelming, unnerving, and quite frankly, unnatural. I feel it in my brain and I feel it throughout my body. It keeps me up at night. It’s unlike anything I have experienced before.
I’ve been advised to calm down. Relax. Stop overthinking. Obviously, I know that being optimistic is better than being anxious. Thinking of worst-case-scenario does nothing for my mental health. We will get through this, healthy and okay. But if I’m being honest, all I hear is eeeeeeeeeee!