I was sure that I was not tired at all when I came back across the Atlantic–except that if I got myself to a chair at the kitchen table to just rest for a minute before I made my coffee, I couldn’t get up again. If I thought about making a piece of toast, I could imagine the bread on the counter and I could imagine the coils of the toaster heating the bread up, I could even smell it if I really pushed myself to my natural limits, and the rest rolled off the page of my things to do list like raw eggs on a slanted table.
As a mother, even if you can’t feed yourself, it is in the contract to do birthdays. Tired is not a valid excuse.
I was asked to make a vaninna cake with chocolate frosting with blue sprinkles in the shape of a dragon, and I did, nearly– substituting paper dragons with pearls for teeth on chopstick stilts stuck into a perfectly round cake, and it was assumed (by myself) that I would cook. I toasted croutons from yesterday’s baguette drizzled with olive oil and salt, tossed with cubed, roasted eggplant, red peppers, seeded tomatoes and onions, finished with shredded fresh basil, raw, minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon, olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper alongside a salad of cannellini marinated in more garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, tossed last minute with tiny arugula leaves, pignoli and shavings of parmesan. The main dish was delivered at 6:30 pm and came in two beautiful cardboard boxes that said “please come again.”
The day after that, for a date scheduled when I thought I was more than I am, I made chicken salad sandwiches with oven roasted chicken breasts (drizzle with olive oil and salt and roast at 400 just til done), fresh thyme, balsamic, a dash of dijon, olive oil, a tiny bit of mayo and fresh lemon zest on 9 grain bread with field greens to take on a picnic where the states of New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut meet. I slept the whole way home.
The day after that I invited my friends over for dinner, needing to see them, and completely aware at this point that there was going to be no cooking involved, and ordered more pizza.
I adore take out. I love take out. I am a slave to take out.
I thought it could be entirely possible that I might never cook again, that a new chapter in my life had begun, that I would accept it like I once accepted being kissed by someone who moved me about as much as a postage stamp.
I woke up, about to skip breakfast–if you use whole milk instead of skim for your coffee it is easy enough to make it to lunch–and an unsolicited and unexpected desire for the smell of cornmeal on a buttered griddle overtook me like a wave that hits you from behind and carries you back out to see. I made pancakes for breakfast. Hot and homemade pancakes with a pour of Vermont maple syrup. Life is coming back.