For Ben’s birthday, I bought him a small stack of books. One of them, Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: A Love Story, I secretly also bought for myself because I’m a shit. Every significant other of a culinarily minded person knows that buying your partner cook books is kind of a backhanded gift to yourself anyway (and I bought him two!), but this cookbook was doubly so as it is both food writing and recipe repository. Doesn’t it seem fitting that whatever evil deity made me instilled in me a deep love of food paired with a complete inability to make it? I mean, if I could cook for myself, I’d never have any reason for human contact whatsoever. I’d just stay inside my house ordering batteries and ingredients, getting fatter and fatter and never washing or changing my clothes until I died and strange neighborhood cats had to come and eat me because I wouldn’t even have cats in my life.
Anyway, we’ve started reading it to each other as we work in the kitchen, which combines a lot of things I love like reading out loud, being read to, being cooked for, the boyfriend, and the kitchen. One section I read that actually made me tear up was “Loserati Special,” which features Jenny and her friend Laurie, who called themselves the loserati as young writers in a nod to New York’s literati, popular authors who were publishing celebrities. Reading to Ben in our kitchen, I saw clearly two women, young and enthusiastic, working to make a break into the writing business by having weekly “idea meetings” that turned into gab sessions, comparing themselves to their heroes, struggling with their aspirations, wanting and working to be more than they were, not necessarily knowing that they were exactly enough already. I related so much to those two girls. And I started to cry a little. Because you never know what’s going to happen, or where life will take you. After feeling for so long like I was sitting still, I finally feel like I’m at the beginning of something again. Maybe it’s the new year, maybe it’s the fact that my birthday is in 4 short days, but I’m starting to remember that nothing lasts forever. While there’s millions and millions of beginnings in life, there are so many things you can only start once. There are people you can only be once. You can only sit in an old camp chair in the kitchen of your broken ghetto apartment reading the first chapter of Dinner: A Love Story to your amazing boyfriend for the first time one time. You can never have any more of your life ahead of you than it is at this second.
So I cried, and when Ben asked me why I was crying, I told him everything that I just told you. And then I said “thinking about us, and all our friends and how smart they all are, and how much we have in front of us, all I can think of is how we’re at the beginning of some really awesome stuff… it’s like we’re buying low.” And then he laughed at me.
But it’s true, if a person can see the value in life, and in effort when other people can’t, they benefit exponentially more from it than the person who only realizes something’s worthwhile once everybody thinks it is. It’s like waiting until you lose something to be grateful you ever had it. Sooner or later, this will all be gone, whatever this is. And I’ll think back on it fondly, not remembering the tedium of having to fill our toilet tank up with the shower in order to flush (this is really happening, and it’s been happening for 2 weeks). Instead of valuing what I’ll have, I’ll glorify the simplicity of this time, and bemoan the complexity of the present. Everyone does it. But today, I got a chance to see across the nostalgia gap and realize that every day has something amazing in it.