I went for an emergency massage the other night to deal with this shoulder pain I contracted in Ottawa last week. A colleague recommended the therapist: “She is punishing,” he warned. Right before, the Beast texted me to say that he was making dinner. All I had to do was pick up a couple of things on my way home. So, after my body was made malleable by the smallest little pair of hands I’ve ever seen, I bought shitake mushrooms, gnocchi, chicken stock and sage from the No Frills.
At home, in the kitchen, where the Beast insisted that he would make dinner alone, without help.
Beast: Are you impressed that I chose some ingredients because I felt they were autumnal and then looked them up on my Epicurious app for a suitable recipe?
Foodie: (Doing my stretching exercises that my therapist showed me) Really impressed.
Beast: Even my outfit is autumnal.
Foodie: Yes it is.
Beast: Even the music is autumnal.
Foodie: Billy Holiday? How?
Beast: She’s got a sadness to her–the sound of decay rings through her voice. She’s definitely not Spring. Hey, how long does a can of chicken broth keep after you open it?
Foodie: I don’t know. How much do you need?
Beast: About a can and a half.
Foodie: Oh just use one can! It’ll be enough.
Beast: Maybe for you, because you never let anything reduce enough. Where are you going?
Foodie: Just into the sun room here. Is that okay? I thought I’d read the Sunday paper.
Beast: But it’s Wednesday. And didn’t your therapist say that you had to keep moving?
Foodie: (yelling from the sun room) Do you want me to stand in the kitchen with you?
Beast: (yelling from the kitchen) Yes.
Foodie: (still yelling) But I can hear you from the wingback in the sun room.
Beast: Why do you have to buy mushrooms with the stems on?
Foodie: Because some people eat them.
Beast: Could you take them off in the grocery store so you don’t have to pay for them?
Foodie: I don’t think so. It’s not like husking corn on the cob.
Beast: Oh, and don’t worry about seeing Skyfall with me: I’m going with my dad.
Foodie: Oh perfect! I’ll see that with Stephen and Liz and then you and I can go see Lincoln.
Beast: About that: I’ll be going with Nick Martin because we have a bond over our shared interest in the Civil War–one you don’t have, considering you watched about one hour out of nine from the Ken Burns Civil War box set.
Foodie: BUT I’VE WATCHED IT TWICE WITH YOU! And I like learning about that stuff from you, not from DVDs.
Beast: Remember when we saw the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets the night he was assassinated in the Smithsonian? I was really moved by that.
Foodie: Why do you love the Civil War so much?
Beast: Because it’s one of those rare moments in human history when men are commensurate with the great tasks presented to them.
Foodie: Holy christ dinner smells good. We should remember this recipe for a night when we have company.
Beast: I’ve already got it bookmarked in my app’s recipe collection.
Foodie: Do you really?
Dinner was delicious.
Really, really autumnal. And afterwards, we talked a little about our upcoming American road trip. Our final destination is Washington D.C., where we’ll spend American Thanksgiving with our American friends. Along the way, we’ll stop in Concord, MA (Thoreau! Mary Louise Alcott! Ralph Waldo Emerson!), Nantucket, MA (Whaling museum!) and Philadelphia, PA (Independence Hall! Other stuff!) We may stop at an outlet mall. And there will be plenty, of course, to see and do in D.C. The Beast also says we’ll also stop at Gettysburg on the way home. And I’m not even going to put up a fuss about it.
We will be visiting a number of “historical houses” on our trip. I usually resist visiting these sorts of places. When we were in New York, the Beast went to Louis Armstrong’s house by himself in Queen’s, while I took myself out to lunch at The Spotted Pig. In Italy, I’d always get a little sulky when we made stops during field trips with the students at Raphael’s “family’s” house in Urbino or Vasari’s place in Arezzo. This is bullshit, I’d whisper, thinking about all the renovations done after the fact. I didn’t find visiting them instructive, or moving.
But I can’t wait to go to see Orchard House in Concord, where Alcott supposedly wrote much of Little Women, and Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond? I AM GOING TO LOSE IT. AND IT’S ONLY A REPLICA OF THOREAU’S CABIN. And Nantucket? I read Moby Dick in the first few days after the Beast and I arrived in Grand Bruit, NL all those years ago. I couldn’t stop reading it. I bet if I picked it up now, I’d get through 10 pages and then want to watch TV and eat chips.
I could only have read it in that moment, at that time.
Maybe that’s the attraction to these probably very touristy places we’re about to visit: They just remind me of times and places when things really meant something to me.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting more sentimental in my old age.