Cherwell

Bexistentialism: HT16 0th Week

My Mum has got a Fitbit. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s essentially a fancy pedometer. You might wonder what this has to do with me. After all, these Bexistentialist columns are meant to self-indulgently cover myself, not my mother. However, in the week before I escaped back to Oxford, life changed.

I understand that accrediting a transformation of lifestyle to my mother’s Fitbit may sound dramatic. But you don’t know what happened yet. You don’t know what happened the week my Mum started wearing a Fitbit. Y’see, all three of my brothers have some variant on the Fibit. Brother 2 is the main issue. “Let’s start a competition Mum” he says, before he gets into his car and drives back to his flat, far away from the chaos he just offhandedly triggered. “An innocent challenge”, I think, waving my brother goodbye from the door. “Why am I waving?” I contemplate. “Why do we feel the need to wave to people from the door?” I ponder, as my hand waves back and forth. “All ends in death” I think, “I am nothing”.

As we walk back into the kitchen, my Mum mentions that she has a new cookbook. “It’s a new take on healthy food – all about nourishing yourself, and getting that healthy glow back”. I nod my head. I wouldn’t mind a detox from the turkey and chocolate sweats. Get back in the healthy lane. “Sure Mum” I hear myself say, “that sounds cool”.

With an enthusiasm-filled mother in our midst, my father and I retreat to other areas of the house on the pretence of working. Strange smells begin to work their way up the stairs and into my bedroom. I type on, subliminally trying to separate the ambiguous smell into its separate ingredients. All I can dissect is cauliflower. I hear the clomp clomp of my mother’s shoes. She is walking around in a circle in the kitchen. I can almost hear her counting each step.

Soon we are sitting in front of plates glowing of nourishment. My Dad’s brow is furrowed, his knife and fork still dormant on the table. I stare down at my plate. I don’t think I have ever seen so much kale on one plate. Sitting on the kale is what seems to be a pile of rice, with hummus delicately balanced on top. Kale, rice and hummus.

“It’s cauliflower rice”, my Mum comments, as we prepare our first forkful. She has blended cauliflower to make it look like rice. “Amelia thinks it’s the new thing”.

The rest of the week goes a lot like this. It seems my mother is convinced that she is best friends with the writer of her new nourishing cookbook.

But dear old Amelia is soon forgotten, when, as I finish my cauliflower rice, my Mum suggests we go for a walk. In the pitch black countryside. (“We can drive to somewhere with street lights!”). We spend over an hour walking round a town, past punters and gleeful couples, for no reason.

A week later, and the kale has still not stopped. I decide it’s time to go back to Oxford. Back to a realm where ‘steps’ only refers to a tragic 90s band. Back in Ox and I’m out on the pull – it’s dinner time. No cauliflower, no kale, I’m going all out. I plunge into my chicken wings, onion rings and chips. The enthusiasm I entered the meal with dissipates. I can feel the stodge expanding within me. Oh god.

The next day, as I come back from food shopping, I put a large pack of kale in the fridge. I quickly shut the fridge door, and set off on a walk.