I woke up this morning wondering when the Concord grapes would appear at the corner green grocer, and craving jam on toast.
We have a lot of jam, both jam I’ve made and jam I’ve been gifted. I just love how they sparkle in their little mason jars.
Only problem is, we don’t eat a lot of jam.
Sitting in the sun room, reading the paper:
Foodie: I think I’ll have jam on toast this morning.
Beast: All that jam in the fridge is rotten. There are about six half-eaten rotten jars of jam in there. I’m not eating that jam.
Foodie: Jam doesn’t go rotten. And besides, I’ll open up a new jar of jam. We have some new marmalade and raspberry jam, you know. We’ve got also got yellow plum jam, Concord grape jam, rhubarb jam, apricot jam. I’ll go to Benna’s bakery and get a fresh loaf of rye bread.
Beast: Do you know what your IQ is?
Foodie: Remember we did an online IQ test when we lived in Newfoundland? Mine was 135 or something. Yours was seven points higher.
Beast: Oh, really. So you have a Mensa-level IQ?
Foodie: No, maybe it was 125 then, and yours was 132 or something.
Beast: I did one at work yesterday on a smart phone while people were talking to me. It was 125. That’s above average but it’s not great. Do you think it’s too late for me to go to Harvard?
The Beast has been slightly obsessed with Ivy League schools and the history of preppy fashion lately. Last night I came home to find him, in a decidedly preppy outfit, reading a book called Preppy.
I made us dinner out of a frozen ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and mushroom that I purchased earlier in the week from Rowe Farms. I remember rolling the package over in my hands, examining the pasta intensely before I bought it. I thought, “This is a new low. Goat cheese and mushroom?” That combination was the height of sophistication in maybe 1995. Maybe it still is in some parts. It reminds of goat cheese and beet salads. But it sounded so good in that moment.
I added some fresh sage and oregano to a pan with butter and olive oil. I tossed the cooked ravioli in there, and topped it off with some freshly grated parmigiano.
It was fantastic. We enjoyed it with a green salad and a bottle of primitivo that the Beast declared to be very average. But I thought, paired with the rather pedestrian goat cheese and mushroom-stuffed ravioli, it went down just fine.
The Beast went back to bed and before I went to the bakery to get the rye bread for our toast with jam, I found him reading another book called Take Ivy.
He asked me if I needed anything from L.L Bean. I didn’t. But he was going to order a tote bag, like mine, embroidered with his initials, plus a pair of Bean boots and a field jacket.
He’s in a strange headspace ever since turning 30 in May, concerned about where he is in life and where he’s going, having only completed one year at university, and how his creative output has tapered off somewhat, none of which is terribly uncommon for that age. We’ve had some wonderful conversations about it; how I had accomplished nothing by the age of 30 and had no idea where I was going. I was lost. I hadn’t completed a novel, like he has, written a beautiful children’s book or recorded an entire collection of music (that I listen to every day at work.) Sometimes I wonder if he would fare better with a partner who made him write out a five-year-plan. But I don’t want to change a thing about him. I’ve never met anyone like him. What strikes me most about the Beast after nearly 10 years together, is his ability to have an effortless, sincere and meaningful conversation with everyone from a psychoanalyst to the 40-year-old schizophrenic woman who bums smokes from him every day at the store where he works. Even my parents: I can hardly stomach a trip home to see either my mom or dad without him. He steers the conversation towards both wonderfully sunny and important things. I don’t have to speak of all the heavy sentiments that jolt me awake in the middle of the night; of questions, of times past, of time running out.
How do you say those things out loud?
On my walk down Garden Ave., I passed two mothers pushing their cherub-like children in strollers; I passed the house with the Autistic boy and could hear him singing out of tune; I passed a house with 17 little brown birds eating who-knows-what from the long, green grass; I passed an elderly Polish woman with a walker whose hair was cut into a perfect grey bob with lovely bangs and a hint of rouge on her lips and cheeks; and I passed the green grocer and saw baskets of beautifully ripe and red field tomatoes and knew that, once again, we wouldn’t eat the jam. We’d have toasted rye bread with butter, slices of tomatoes, salt and pepper.
And there, hidden behind the peaches and cobs of corn, were the first Concord grapes of the season.