“Can you teach me about coffee?” my barista asked me. “I’m doing everything I can to work hard, but there’s so much I don’t know.” I flashed back to a … Continue reading coffee 201
The last couple of nights, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of dining with delightful company.
This evening, I dined with one of my oldest friends. The night before, one of my newest.
The life of a nomad is exhilarating and lonely. As an extrovert, I am often longing to make connections with people, befriending a stranger and kneading into their story. I keep surprising myself at how utterly fascinating people are – very rarely is their boring, socially-acceptable facade what actually lies beneath the surface.
This evening, I drank a beer and knived a burger, talking about the future with a reflection of the past.
Last night, I watered and sushied and discussed about the abstract and the flickers of history with a member of my present.
I find moments like these to be refreshing. An hour or two to break away from the mundane to listen to the heartbeat of another’s world. That touch of humanity to remind you that you are not alone with your thoughts. That beauty in the laughter of a fresh joke. “Knock knock – who’s there? Interrupting cow. Interruptin–MOOOO!”
It’s moments like these that make me want to pull out a paintbrush and put to canvas the lift in my spirits. It’s nights like these that remind me why I travel: to find a world that changes my own.
I am not a great cook.
Baking? That I can do. A dash of almond is my favorite to add that sparkle to any creation. Cakes and cookies and scotcheroos – desserts fly from my fingertips.
Oh, dear, cooking.
My longest roommate and I, had three permanent house rules.
- When in doubt, add more cinnamon.
- Recipes are for the weak.
- Respect the Batman.
We spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
She loved bread, and I often tried to indulge in making some when she was having a rough day (which, when getting a double BS happens often in your final semesters).
I would occasionally wake up at 4am to head into work and toss the bread dough I had prepped the night before in the oven, pulling it out as I headed out the door. Sometimes it worked, often it didn’t. Regardless, she usually liked my bread.
Dinner, however, was usually a disaster.
“Let’s make chickn! And add… tomato soup!”
“Hmmm… fried zucchini and pot roast?”
“I think I burned the kale again.”
A few nights ago, my boyfriend and I were pondering what to make for dinner. This process is always incredibly stressful for me – I make decisions all day, the last thing I want to do is decide what to eat! He suggested fish and I smiled politely (my father didn’t eat much fish when I was growing up, hence I can hardly stomach the smell now). He then glanced at me and said, “How about something European?”
He started laughing at me. “Your eyes just lit up!”
I argued with my phone for a few minutes until I pulled up a recipe – bryndzove halusky, the national dish of Slovakia. Potato dumplings made with sheep cheese can’t be exactly replicated around here, but I figured I could make something somewhat similar!
And then came my usual issue – Rule Number 2: Recipes are for the weak.
I shredded my potatoes, combined a couple recipe suggestions for the dough, fried my bacon, and melted together some feta, goat cheese, and sour cream. As the potato dumplings danced around in their boiling water and I wracked my brain for the term “funnel cake” to describe the process of how I was making them, I flashed back to the last time I’d made the dish with my Slovak host sister in my parents’ house. Trust me, it is much easier to make a traditional meal when you have someone with you who the tradition actually belongs to instead of the memories of a terrified and homesick 18-year-old.
He came upstairs as the bacon sizzled and blinked at the mess I made. “Can I help?”
“Nope, think we’re ready to go!”
I served up the dish best I could with no colander and we dove in.
Oh, dear Lord. I can’t cook.
It wasn’t awful.
That is, we could eat it.
But really? Ya need a colander. Ya need that delightful sheep cheese. Ya need the excessive salty aftertaste and the magic that only a Slovak can bring.
I tried. I really did. But I ain’t no Oma, and now I have many, many leftovers of potato dumplings. With bacon.
Rule Number Two: Recipes are for the weak.
Is my life supposed to be complete, fulfilled, satisfactory, now that I have this expensive, shiny piece of paper?
Sometimes, life hurts like hell.
One was a blog about simplicity and the art of being free. I shrugged the last one off – my life was fine, I thought.
Now I’m not so sure.
For me, writing a public blog like this allows me not to live as a disassociated documentarian as you’re often warned about, but an active participant in the world around me.
I like having my name on a lease and moving my car two minutes before the meter expires instead of five minutes after.
“But frankly, my dear, I don’t give a dime.”