Today was a good day. It was a day of half-fantasy, half-jerking the mind out of the clouds, lasso style, and re-attaching it to things that are real and simple and tangible--things that mean something. Like family. And cheese. All in a home is where the heart is sort of way.
Mom and I skipped the morning workout we had planned for 8:30 because it was raining and we don't like to walk in the rain. (Walking, that's our workout. Followed by a seemingly spontaneous, yet always scheduled stop at Peet's coffee and tea. We only drink coffee here, nowhere else).
I scrambled eggs in the kitchen in sweat pants. Mom had a hair appointment. She offered that I join.
"But I'm making breakfast."
"Skip it.We'll get lunch."
"...But I haven't eaten..."
She didn't press me. She knows how I get when I miss breakfast.
I met mom at Barnes & Noble on North Main Street. I had to get a book assigned for a new class in the spring, the class being "Telling your story: Discerning Vocation," and the book being "Hannah Coulter" by Wendell Berry.
I could spend hours in a bookstore. The scent is intoxicating. Just walking around there makes me feel smarter, makes me want to run my fingertips over every paperback on every shelf, sift through cookbooks, novels, sit in the aisles with my legs crossed and flip through Ernest Hemingway's short stories without looking at the clock. Everyone knows that smell.
I, of course, upon mom's recommendation, ended up instead purchasing a book called "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes."
Mom and I sat for lunch in a booth next to a window. We ate gourmet pizza and drank iced tea with lemon. We talked about her Bible study group, though she isn't particularly religious. She told me about the other ladies in the Bible study group and how they pray for her, how they set up a "prayer list" and my mom's sadness and regrets and frustrations are on that prayer list. She told me how she prays for them too, the other ladies, and I thought that was lovely.
I told her about old friends I had in highschool, and how some have babies of their own now, and how they wear diamond rings and wait around for TV programs and ovens and telephones. I told her how I don't want to be like that, how I want to be like the women who say how things are going to be, who say how the world is going to be.
The pizza was very good. Mom's earings bursted in the light. She is beautiful.
Mom and I stood at the counter at BevMo, planning a French dinner. BevMo, at that time, reminded me of Parisian markets, the way the food displays wrap around the worker's station in a box shape.
"We'll have fondue!"
"Oh, yes, fondue!"
"And crepes--strawberries, bananas..."
"Crepes. Definitely crepes."
"White wine, or red?"
The displays were cheese displays. The cheese smelled phenomenal. Soft cheese, or hard? Camembert? Mimollete? Goat? No, no, mom hates goat cheese--the smell makes her want to vomit. A traditional Brie? There was nobody else in the store--we were all alone, conjuring up our authentic meal. The world awaited us two--what would they choose? They would ask. There is just so much cheese. We were the greatest chefs who ever lived. We had so many ideas--imagine the possibilities!
Mom and I eventually went with quiche because, well, we like quiche, and because dad is on a diet again, so he probably wouldn't fully appreciate a giant dipping bowl of bubbling milk fat and a loaf of thick bread. Nor would he enjoy thin pancakes smothered in chocolate, we assumed.
Imported Gruyere and Bavarian Emmentaler. They would taste very good together. 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Edna Valley Vineyard. We decided unanimously, and the crowd's whispers silenced, contented.
I followed a recipe from the cookbook I handmade for Mom (written in French) after I went abroad--a compilation of meals prepared and served by my host mom, Beatrice Jacqmin, among other things I encountered on the road of different cities and countries. Like pastries, escargot, moules frites, Alsatian Baeckeoffe, chocolate souffle, and hot wine.
Mom was out picking Becca up from soccer practice.
Lay the pie crust in the pan. Whip 4 eggs. Chop 1/4 cup white onions. Dice 1/2 cup ham. Slice 1/4 cup artichoke hearts. Grate cheese, cheese, cheese.
Dad sat on the couch.
"This is the longest you've ever been in the kitchen, you're becoming so domesticated!"
"Oh, please. Can you come set the table?"
Salt, pepper, basil, parsley, etc. Oven. Salad (lettuce, mushrooms, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, vinaigrette). Etc.
They all went for seconds.
Later we watched a movie in the family room, mom on the couch at the head of the coffee table, Becca and me on the other. Wet sat, huddled under the blanket mom sewed last summer. She was practically on my lap. My leg fell asleep but I didn't move it.
I stayed up in bed reading till very late, till I could hear dad downstairs grinding coffee, still dark outside. I fell asleep with the lights on.