One and the Same

Do you know what I do, when I’m not having a very good day? I think you already have a pretty good idea, but I’ll just go ahead and tell you anyway.

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I like to turn off all the lights and just look out the window for a little while. Watch the world down below. I have just the one window, but it’s okay because it’s pretty big, and it’s right next to the radiator. I almost managed to rock myself back to sleep, while I was sitting there this morning — after a whole night of feeling like I just couldn’t get warm enough. It’s either positively tropical or cannot-wiggle-your-toes cold, in here. Do you know how that is? I’m all for keeping things simple, but I do wish I could have more of a say, sometimes.

Tea is a big help, when it’s cold. I like peppermint, with just a touch of something sweet. And should a lovely new friend happen to surprise-send you a jug of ginger syrup from your hometown, I highly recommend that over anything else you have. A little jolt of sugar will do you good.

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I’ve given up fighting it, more or less: sometimes sugar is just the answer. (We’ve been ending up here a lot lately, haven’t we?) You know that I can’t bake in this apartment — otherwise known as The Shoebox.  I say that mostly affectionately, but not entirely. Not having an oven means that an awful lot of my life tastes like leafy greens and light dressings. Like quick-pickled vegetables and freshly cracked pepper.

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It’s actually not all that bad — there are so many ways to make salad less sad. When lamb goes on sale, I can cook it in my Dutch oven (over one of the two burners). There are four fabulous places to buy cheese in my neighborhood, and if I’m good about sticking to my list otherwise, I can usually spring for a great one. On my way home, I can usually get my hands on a tomato that looks appealingly red, anyway. And at around six o’clock, every day, something always ends up coming together.

But there’s something so cold, about salad. I just can’t even tell you how much I miss the smell of something baking. I miss it more than anything. More than I miss him and more than I miss home. More than I miss the time when they were one and the same.

I could make here feel more like home, I think, if I could just bake something.

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After nine months, this still isn’t home — it’s just a too-small space with too many echoes. Don’t ask me how that’s possible, but it is. It needs the hum of an electric mixer. And puffs of flour — both bread and cake. It needs the sound of a rack being moved around. It needs the warmth radiating from behind a cracked oven door. It needs these things more than it needs a fresh coat of paint, or a good scrub with bleach, or a thorough vacuum behind the fridge.

If I could just snip a triangle from a bag of chocolate chips, and watch them landslide down into a silver bowl, I think I’d feel better. And if you were here, I think I’d feel better too. (A lot better.) I just have the feeling that you’d help me lay some paper towels down, and you’d have much better intentions of letting the cookies cool. Wouldn’t you?

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