[The Mediterranean from the ferry, August 2007.]
One night last summer I stood on a rock above the Mediterranean, looking across the rim of the world. My brother had just jumped into the ocean; he yelled at me to step off the land and into the water, too: come on, it’s totally safe, it’s warm, come on come in. The sky slipped into the blue hour (or really, the blue-gray hour), that last little bit of daylight when the sun drops lower down the horizon and shimmers through the clouds and everything is soft and still. I waited.
Now, I knew it was OK. He’d jumped in and I could see it was absolutely marvelous — I also knew that I would jump (as I love to jump from rocks into lakes, or oceans, or swimming holes in Samuel P. Taylor Park). But I hesitated. The water slapped gently against the rocks. The sun slunk ever lower and a few birds winged their way across the hills. I felt that nervous, trembly feeling in my legs and stomach that really is more anticipation than anything else — and still I waited.
I have been thinking about this swim lately, because … well, I miss Greece (and Spetses), always, but I remember that tremulous, excited, scared feeling of just before as if it were yesterday. Sometimes things are hard because they just are, and sometimes they are hard because of a whole other complicated slew of things, and sometimes they are hard because there is a lot of care, and love, involved — those I think are the hardest ones of all. Change is most always good, but on the edge of it sometimes you feel like you’re on that rock above the water, about to jump, but a little scared to do so even though you know you will be just fine.
You know I love to cook for others — it’s my way of showing affection, of taking care of, of being there in the most simple and vital way. I’ve been cooking for two for an age — I will not say how long, but some of you know of course — but for the foreseeable future I will be cooking most of my meals seule (unless, of course, I have dinner parties which, of course) which I’m well used to, but sometimes it’s lacking that little something. Luckily, though, I do like my own cooking pretty well because I think I shall just continue on making my big batches of soups and stir fries and things and learn to concoct exotic things with my leftovers. It could be worse, obviously.
As I think back on the time I spent with my particular someone, I have to remember the very first thing I ever cooked for him: a soup, because he was sick. This was in a little basement apartment I shared with two friends for one year in college, when I made big, messy pots of soup with whatever vegetables were on hand (potatoes, almost always, carrots, all the healthy things I could think of). My room mate’s boyfriend teased me about my soup-making. This was serious if I was going to all the trouble, he said. So I made my soup and I brought it to campus, where he lived, and maybe I also brought one of my very vegetarian vegetable-dyed sweaters (or wore it) and that, really, was that.
Over the years we have shared many, many delicious meals together as well of course as many other things, and my little wish tonight is that we will eat together again someday down the road — wherever in the world we happen to be.
(In the meantime, I foresee a lot of roasted cauliflower and bread and cheese and impromptu soups for me, and also? If you ever want to come over, please call. We’ll eat. A lot.)
In Greece last summer, poised over the Med, I hesitated. I waited and I looked across the sea, empty and booming, and I shifted around the rocks that cut into my feet because I was ready
, but only just. My good friend took photos from the beach behind me and my brother laughed up at me and I felt safe even though I didn’t know how deep the water would be (would I hit the sand?), or how cold, or how long it would take me to swim back to the beach. For a second I considered turning around and scrambling down the rocks, but then I looked over the sea again, and I took a breath, and I leaped.