I've been cruising through Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life. It's been sitting on the floor for weeks, but I just got a library reminder that it is due (today) and can't be renewed. Fortunately it is the perfect kind of reading for the time I have right now—brief stories plus recipes—and I'm whizzing through it.
I would have devoured this book last year. I immersed myself in books about food and gardening. And I cooked and I ate. People talk about not tasting food as a symptom of grief. Perhaps I had that for the first couple of weeks. But then I couldn't stop cooking. Gooey mac and cheese, hearty beef stew, warm oozy cookies, cheesy lasagna, roast pork with warm apples and onions . . . I sought comfort in food. Not simply eating, but eating well, making food, choosing food. I spent more than I should have on good wine and fancy cheese and local eggs and small-farm meat. I made up for months of hospital cafeteria food and restaurant meals. I read and I cooked and I ate and I savored. It was what I could do for myself—that and buy flowers all through the dark days of winter—and I had plenty of time to do it.
Time is at a bit more of a premium now, but I still find myself baking cookies or bread or muffins a couple of times a week. Today, my mouth has been watering for banana and chocolate, maybe Molly's recipe with crystallized ginger; maybe my friend Julie's banana's bread, which is one of my favorites; or maybe the banana oat bran muffins with chocolate chips that sound healthy but are deliciously buttery and best warm. I just wanted that combo of banana moistness and melty chocolate.
But I'm making myself wait, because I'm having coffee with friends tomorrow, two friends and their kids, a meeting I couldn't have done last year. A meeting that would have paralyzed me last year, exhausted me just thinking about it. The idea of being in a room with two moms who could talk about their three kids, two moms who were dealing with sleeplessness and feeding issues and discipline and growth spurts. Two moms and me, a mom who had known mostly hospitals and paralytics and procedures and then knew empty arms and aching heart. No, I wouldn't have done this meeting last year, just the muffins.
Muffins are good, friends are too. I'm looking forward to both.