Out of Order

I want to tell you about the friend date I went on the other day, because that would be going in order. Maybe there’s some kind of a science to storytelling, or maybe I just really don’t like losing memories — I don’t know. I do know that whenever I don’t write them down regularly, as I go, I can’t keep my clutch on them.

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Sure, I can make notes for later. Look at pictures for prompts. Try to write when the world is calm again. But I can’t connect anymore. Too many other feelings will have cropped up since then, and I won’t be able to hold them all.

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This makes me impossibly anxious. Now I have too many thoughts, and they can’t be corralled.

I don’t know if you can relate to this, at all, so I will just go ahead and skip to the part where I take a deep breath in and a deep breath out and wrap one hand around my coffee cup.

We’re going to go out of order, today.

I’d like to tell you about the day I ate nothing but cake. The day I wore a blazer that was a little too boxy and ballet flats that cut into the backs of my heels until they bled.

I went to go visit a woman with a bio that makes my head spin. She’s a million things — a James Beard award-winning chef (4x), an author (13 times over), a food writer, a pioneer, a restaurant consultant, a wife, a mother — but to me, more than any of those things, she’s an incredibly good listener.

When she’d sat down next to me at an event earlier this month, I’d almost fallen off of my chair. And when she’d approached me afterwards and listened to me talk a mile a minute and gently guided me back down into my seat, I’d thought: New York, you were worth every last lonely night.

Yesterday she invited me to tea at her beautiful brownstone. She invited me to tea, and she gave me coffee and cake and so much hope.

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I monopolized her entire morning, and I hobbled home full of all the things that make your voice spiral up into a squeak when you call your mom. Have you experienced that, lately? I hope you have. That feeling — that rush of a dozen feelings — it’s one that I don’t seem to experience very often. It’s the kind of feeling that makes you feel vaguely like you might actually just up and float away, if someone doesn’t come to tie and tether you to the ground. Only you’re not at all concerned about being swept away, and you’re half-hoping no one comes.

The cake she made. I want to talk about the cake she made, because I’m still savoring the rest of it.

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This cake was quite the cake. It didn’t have chocolate or frosting, but it did have credibility. (In spades.) In fact, I’ve heard that it has been delighting guests in the Gold home for years and years. And the crumb. Books could be written on that crumb alone.

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More about this infamous cake: it featured red wine and olive oil and lemon and rosemary and a crackly sugar crust. It was, quite suddenly and as far as I was concerned, the only cake. And it had a name, which I only had to ask for twice: Venetian Wine Cake.

I think I ate a fourth of that cake singlehandedly. A year ago that would have sent me into a complete and total tailspin. But last night, when dinner rolled around and I still wasn’t the slightest bit hungry, I felt kind of amused by the whole thing. Wow — I had eaten a lot of cake! And do you know — it felt mostly good.

Instead of going to sleep with my stomach churning, I went to sleep with my mind racing. Do we pick something that we aren’t just able to do? Do we pick something that we feel like maybe we were meant to do? Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe that’s what we should do. Lots of that.

And maybe we’ll just figure out where we’re headed when we arrive? I’m hoping that’ll be a good answer too.

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