november, 2012

Tue, 27 Nov 2012 18:48:41 -0800

Grief is lumpy, my friends tell me when I ask them why I'm still crying. It's the gravy of emotions: Smooth and free-flowing as you stir the stock into the roux (I used Bittman's roasted vegetable stock for the second year in a row at Thanksgiving last week, having Liliana do the stirring while I finished up the rainbow chard), then congealing as it cools, only to flow irregularly over the mashed potatoes with parsnips (from the Cornucopia Cookbook -- the Irish know their potatoes!). Sometimes it heats up unexpectedly and is suddenly very present again, scalding; it then cools off, and I can focus again on my newspaper, work, anything else. And reminders crop up everywhere.

London couldn't have come at a better time. After three unhappy weeks, I ran away to the cold British Isles, where nothing reminded me of him. Cornish pasties at Victoria Station every morning! Those iconic red telephone booths, which never get old! I had two more cocktails than I promised myself and ended up singing Black Coffee with the pianist at a lovely, tiny bar with an upright and house-made bitters. A hit-and-run of Dublin, just for Ciara's 30th birthday dinner, and just time enough for a coffee, new wool blanket, and Real Irish Wheat Germ(tm) before jetting back to London, to a Mumbaikar dinner with Amanda in Leicester Square. Emily came for the second week, and we ate at some fantastic restaurants (my best new discovery: Ottolenghi), sipped perfect cocktails, saw the Globe company do Twelfth Night with an all-male cast, stayed up too late drinking mint juleps at an Election Day party and still missed hearing Obama's amazing victory speech live, stuffed as many finger sandwiches and tea cakes as possible into our mouths at the poshest place I've been in a while, and then just ate banh mi and watched Notting Hill in the adorable hotel with a bottle of nice Italian wine.

That is what I call effective distraction.

Something about returning stateside, though -- not even San Francisco, but touching down in Philadelphia for an early friends' Thanksgiving -- seemed to quickly unravel my two weeks of careful patching. I started scanning the sidewalks again as I went for a jet-lagged dawn run through autumnal University City, unsure if I might run into, if not him on that coast, at least a brother.

Friday we're exchanging the items we kept at each other's houses -- t-shirts, a hairbrush, my spare pair of glasses. A needed finality. Perhaps then this lumpiness can start to settle, attenuate, and, eventually, disappear.

all this Šnori heikkinen, November 2012

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