I’m sitting on the streetcar and I don’t have a clue what I’m going to eat for dinner. I’m feeling woozy: the last thing I had to eat was the puffy bagel-with-little-square-of-Philadelphia-cream-cheese at the faculty meeting, six hours earlier. I made a big mess on my paper plate because I couldn’t finish the big bland bagel and then added fresh fruit and a muffin to the pile. I tried to nosh while listening, taking notes on my computer and kind of meta-analyzing the whole situation at the same time. I don’t think my stomach registered anything, really.
I come home to a kitchen that is bright, warm, and messy.My fridge and cupboards look empty but turns out they’re not. I find:Turkey sausage. Kale. Canned tomatoes. Shallots. Garlic. Little frozen cubes of pesto I made from my container pots of basil last August.
Parmegianno Regianno. Rotini pasta
Somehow, after days of eating crap, I get my head around the food issue. My hands find a rhythm and will my brain does not possess. Pasta on the boil, dishes in the sink. As It Happens on the radio. Stuff that happened at work. Stuff happening in the world. Shallots and garlic, releasing their sweet, hot aroma. Politics, power, sustenance, survival.
Make enough for two nights’ worth of dinner. Looks good, like something an Italian granny would make. Eat it while watching a Friends rerun, feeling like a bad girl. (Because of some stuff I’ve written, my friends think I take the time to set a table, light candles, yadda yadda). Tastes good, too. Those cubes of pesto are like little time-capsules of summer. Wish I’d made more of them.
Eating alone, I am happy. Eating alone I am also: impatient, distracted. Self-conscious. My mother used to say, You. Don’t. Make. A. Whole. Meal. Just. For. Yourself. Ah, but that was back when she lived with eight other people. Now, she lives alone, like me. Sometimes I see her making a big delicious soup. Sometimes, she stands at the counter and slurps it up. Other times, more ceremoniously, she eats her soup while sitting on the couch and watching Iron Chef.
A few days later, The Guitar Player comes over and cooks dinner in my kitchen. She knows I’m slammed. She wants to be supportive. She wants to make amends. She’s nervous. Pots and pans clash and clatter. Harvest Stew. You. Have. To. Make. It. In. The. Fall. she says, tensely. The last carrots from her garden. Her fresh frozen tomatoes. Sausage again, and parsnips. Served over polenta. There’s love, and regret, and hope in this stew.
We eat together. Somehow, we get back in synch. We get our heads around sharing a meal again. It’s good.