life

Leaping

1 September 2008


[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.

  • caviar and codfish 14 September 2008 at 3:44 pm

    You are wonderful.

  • Don Pessin 13 September 2008 at 8:55 am

    Nikko,
    You paint a vivid picture with your words, but I hope you don’t mind me sharing the photo:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnyp/1418566911/in/set-72157602102055784/

  • John C Abell 12 September 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Btw, could you possibly be more classy?

  • Kristin at The Kitchen Sink 7 September 2008 at 11:29 am

    Nicole: This is such a beautiful, honest, touching post. It might feel like a leap, but you sound like you’re on solid ground to me. And when it gets shaky, roasted cauliflower, bread, cheese and soup sounds like a perfectly delicious prescription.

  • Tea 3 September 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Brave leaps are sometimes the hardest steps to take, but in the end they up being the most important. I hope the landing is soft for you. Let’s grab soup when I’m down there next.

  • nicole 3 September 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Ladies, I love you. You’re all just the very, very best. xo

  • anne 3 September 2008 at 11:51 am

    I was just thinking how I’d like to find myself in a place where you could cook for me!

  • justrun 2 September 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I’m finding myself a bit afraid to leap right now, oddly. But here’s to leaping anyway! :)

  • Lunch at 11:30 2 September 2008 at 6:18 am

    we’ll leap together. i love you, nicolina. see you very very soon…

  • Jessie Schlosberg 1 September 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I’m proud of you too! And I want to come over for dinner!
    I love you, my Nicolie!

    jessie

  • kate. 1 September 2008 at 8:41 am

    that was perfect. i am so very proud of you my dear. you are brave and true. i will be over to eat soup with you soon. xoxo

  • Toffeeapple 1 September 2008 at 8:15 am

    That is the saddest post I have ever read. I do so hope that you are alright? (Hugs)