I have to remind myself that when I start to feel tinges of sadness it's most likely because I'm in the process of letting something go, and, almost always, there is greater happiness on the other side. I have to say this to myself over and over. This standing on the precipice part is a real bitch. Every cell in my body is at attention, ready to respond to some kind of directive and yet I have a hard time pin-pointing exactly what it is that's bothering me because, quite frankly, I don't really want to identify it. Because then I have to address it, jump off the cliff and then realize it's over. And yes, there is relief after the dive, but holding onto crap is what I know; it's my human condition. My name is Melissa and I'm an emotional hoarder. I need a producer from A&E to hire a junk crew to remove all the shit from my brain and haul it away while I try and hold on to the useless bits like bottle caps and love letters in a shoebox.
Since I arrived in New York I've worked most days. Because obviously I'm here to work and to learn. And I'm having a great time doing it, as I've made mention a few times in these recent posts. In fact, I feel the same sense of hope that I did when I lived here when I was studying at FIT almost 10 years ago. I'm trying to figure out if that's because I have a pathological need to jump from one creative discipline to another (costume design to goldsmithing to recreational cooking) and it's some kind of well-established pattern of folly, or if it's just a little internal compass reminder that I'm on the right path for right now. It scares me to think that I'm constantly reinventing myself, my life and my surroundings, but I just deeply hope that I don't have ADD or that I am a dilettante of the highest order (though I don't think I'm wealthy enough to be considered a dilettante, anyway).
Even though I've worked most days I've managed to visit with old friends, one of which drove down several hours from another city. It was an uncharacteristically spontaneous thing for him to do, which is a weird thing for me to even know about him, because I don't actually really know him at all. And yet I do. I know his story, a yarn about a guy who has (almost) always done the right thing, the expected thing. A tale about a solid citizen who went to the right schools, married the right girl, had the smart and good looking kids. That's a good story. But that's also where it ends, because that story is subject to change at any time depending on who is telling it and who is reading it.
Just like it was uncharacteristic of him to drop everything in the pursuit of a Lost Weekend, it was uncharacteristic of me to be welcoming of such a thing-- it was almost like I was harboring an AWOL soldier. And to be fair, the whole marriage, children, solid citizen, job thing may be a war I don't really completely understand...Ok not "may be" a war I don't understand, it's totally a war that I have zero frame of reference for.
We had some interesting conversations in between stuffing our faces with chorizo tacos, Two Boots pizza and tea-saoked salmon eggs benedict while washing them down with whiskey, bad beer and champagne. And I think we came to some startling, yet not exactly revelatory, buzzy-headed conclusions, the most relevant to this rant being that we spend the time after puberty and through our 30s struggling to do what is expected of us only to spend the following years trying to remember who we were, purely, as children before that thing called puberty and the expectations. That who we were then is really who we should try to be now. That dating and marriage, or specifically finding yourself in another person, is not actually finding yourself at all (even if it is a really, really rewarding and fun part of the greater experience)-- it's just a simple reflection or a trompe l'oeil. Or maybe I was drunk and we talked about pictures of East Village doorways and the fact that I may be a raging cat lady. Maybe.
It was nice to have a weekend drinking buddy, in any case. And I'm glad he reminded me that I'm not all that bohemian and that he's not so square that he has corners. A little perspective is always good.
So why, in the aftermath of these few days do I feel like I'm standing at the edge of a cliff again? What is it that I don't want to admit to myself? What am I missing and ignoring and why am I doing that?
And most importantly, what is going to happen when I get back to my life in LA with my cat hoarding and soup party throwing? And why do I feel like everything is about to be turned on its head?
Which leads me to the recipe portion of our little post (that was probably the least elegant segue in the history of inelegant segues, by the way)... ah, a beautiful end of summer gazpacho, a fantastic use for the bounty of tomatoes you probably have right now.
12-18 tomatoes (beefsteak or heirloom are quite nice), cored and rough chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled and rough chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and membrane removed, diced
2 medium sized shallots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more, to taste or consistency
2-3 TBSP sherry vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place chopped tomato, cucumber, jalapeño pepper and shallots into a large container, toss with a fair amount of kosher salt, 1/4 cup of the olive oil (or more) and let sit for a few hours in the fridge.
Using a food processor and in batches, process while adding a little olive oil to each batch to emulsify, making sure to keep the mixture somewhat chunky. Mix all of the batches together and add sherry vinegar, salt & pepper and more olive oil for consistency, if desired.
Serve chilled. Feel free to add a few lightly pan-fried shishito peppers on top (mmmmmmm.)
OK. It's time for me to head to work. I feel like the Dunkin' Donuts guy, but it's time for me to make the salsa verde, not the doughnuts. Maybe I'll get to work the salad station tonight. Lord knows I love me a burrata, peach, melon and purslane salad in a muscato vinaigrette!
And maybe, while I'm in the weeds with 10 orders of the stagionale or 20 orders of the pomodoro, I'll have some clarity on this cliff standing place where I find myself. I'll certainly be thinking about what the plunge will feel like.