L. once told me a story about a friend of hers who, when proposed to, burst into tears. Not out of joy but out of panic and frustration and astonishment. And our musician friend J., when he proposed to his musician ladyfriend in a top-secret, unexpected way, was greeted with silence. And shaking. And then a tentative, “I can’t answer this right now. I need some time. To think. What a surprise.”
I come from a long line of cooks. Cousins, grandfathers, great-grandfathers…restaurant owners, caterers, neighborhood pierogi makers. I grew up in my grandpa’s kitchen, watching him make sausage and peppers, egg foo young, silver dollar pancakes. When I was finally tall enough to reach the kitchen counter, he started giving me jobs. Most often, it was Cheesecake Maker: He’d set out all the ingredients, cut out a recipe, and leave me to it. He’d be over the hot stove while I’d be crushing graham crackers into a crust. Those were our bonding moments.
Apparently, Chicago is Siberia. Or so I hear from a friend who has recently relocated from the East Coast to Chitown. She thinks she has moved to the arctic hinterlands. This makes me laugh.
I’ve recently started playing soccer again after a fourteen-year hiatus. It’s ridiculously hard: My feet don’t always remember the right way to dribble, the right way to pass, or the right way to trap. Sometimes my legs work and my head doesn’t; other times, the head works and the feet don’t. Sometimes neither work…and then it’s time for the bench.
While living in Mexico, I joked that speaking Spanish forced me to be far more Zen about life: Since I could only speak in the present tense, I was forced to just live in that present tense.
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