Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cooking or Break Up II

We went to bed unconscionably early only to find out that neither of us were tired. Somehow we fell into a nighttime rhythm. Teeth brushing then PT exercises, and it wasn’t until we laid awake in the dark that I leaned over to question what we had done. “Aren’t you tired?” she responded.

“Not really,” I wondered what cues we had each given each other and misread so automatically that neither of us noticed. It was 9:30pm for Chirst’s sake.

At least it was an opportunity to talk though. “I want us to cook together. For two people who claim to love to cook, we’ve spent so little time in kitchens, so much time in restaurants.” She was a little defensive about the restaurants. It had been a source of contention for some time (originally due to class issues then because of our differing tastes). I pressed her on it, hoping to reverse what was rapidly becoming clear: we were boring together. Surely there were things we could love together besides one another.

“Why don’t we cook for New Years, at your friend’s house?”

“Because he’s my best friend, but we eat because we have to. I want to cook like two people who enjoy it.” All but one of my adult friendships have evolved over cutting boards and immersion blenders. Make-your-own calzone parties. Excited whispers of vegan recipes. Name dropping Indian dishes. Exchanging produce tips.

After a week solid of doubts (on my part), I wanted us to get excited about something. I wanted us to cry over the caramelizing onions, and bounce along as we shook on the bread-crumb coating. I wanted latin music and the smell of garlic to linger late into the night. I wanted us to giggle about how obsessively I arranged the sushi. I wanted to watch her eyes light up to the lathering of butter as I nestled layers of filo dough one-by-one. I wanted us to pull a golden nutty sheet out of the oven, and marvel at how good of a team we were.

“You don’t even like to eat. It’s not fun if by time we get to the good part, you’re already done… Why do you even like cooking?”

“It’s making something you didn’t know you could. It’s taking flavors that entice you and finding ways to mix and match, to infuse them with creativity. It’s taking something old and making it new.” What I didn’t tell her was that I used to have a whole shtick about how cooking was creativity. It’s the essence of functional art. It’s giving yourself permission to take longer than you have to just because you want to. It’s indulging in the process instead of the product. I like to cook because I like to make things that feel extravagant. Cooking lets me lavish my focus and attention into creating something others enjoy. It’s been a long time since I felt like I had something worth sharing.

But I didn’t get that far, before she called me analytic. My heart sank, and I rolled over. It didn’t matter what she said after that.

In the morning I woke up first, hoping to find the new thing-we-could-both-be-excited-about. I made us eggs florentine. It was my first time. Half way through the meal, she started apologizing about insulting my kitchen the night before. I had a hard time swallowing with all the words caught in my throat.

At least we had other firsts.

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