"These are hard times. Right? Most of us are making do with less, sometimes much less. And yet... I feel that somewhere in all this less, there is a secret more."
As my eyes lighted on those words, I felt two hands touch my shoulders, and heard someone say "Congratulations". I was tired and hungry, sitting at a cold table near the door of a nearly empty coffee shop on a Friday evening, getting somewhere close to closing time. We might have taken a seat by the fireplace at the other end, if I'd thought of it, but I was in a bit of a daze after a week which had begun with several exhausting days of illness and was now ending with my signing a purchase agreement for my first house. A house I'd only seen for the first time less than three hours before. I wasn't excited, really--just dumbfounded. Suddenly it seemed there was no one to call. I dialed home and the machine picked up. I didn't leave a message.
During the week since, I've gone round and about it in as many ways as I might, perhaps pushing the limits of the patience and good will of my family and friends, to make my peace with this decision. It's not what I wanted. Not what I'd hoped for. In many ways it is exactly what I was not looking for. And that's all right.
It was a nice bit of writing in Edible Twin Cities, by Anna Thomas, on the virtues of food and home. That sort of thing is still trendy these days--a trend which I am heartened to see so many embrace--but this piece somehow captured the heart of the matter in a way that not many do, not by giving us all the reasons or describing the beauty but by sharing her joy, in a few simple and delicious phrases, the way some women can do.
"Watching a storm outside a window for a while and cracking the walnuts is a pleasant meditation. Sitting with a friend on a summer evening, sharing a glass of wine and shelling favas, is a convivial pleasure. Dropping vegetables into a pot of water or a sizzling wok is an act full of hope. Stirring that pot is like stirring my history. And eating with my friends, all of us in the kitchen together, crowded around the table, tasting, talking, laughing well into the night--that is a joy that is home made."
In my new place I'll be alone, for the first time in many years. I look forward to the solitude for a time, as I work to refocus my energies and intentions. I hope, also, that I will find a space there which I can share with many of you, around my (as yet undiscovered) table. These are hard times, for most of us, for reasons varied and strange. To be up to the task of nourishing our selves and each other is sometimes the most we can hope to do. Or it may be that it's all we need to do.
Feed your selves well, and bring some along when you come...