“Occasionally you live for a grilled cheese sandwich and fun.”
-Mel Brooks on WTF Podcast (Episode 358)
Earlier this week, I had lunch with a friend who is adjusting to retirement. We went to this Korean place I’m kind of in love with, and we had potstickers and fresh kimchee and a couple delicious meals whose names I cannot recall. This friend of mine loves food, and it’s a little bit of magic sharing conversation and a good meal with someone who enjoys these things as much as I do. She and I talked about the food in front of us, of course, and other meals we’ve eaten, but we also talked about life and rebuilding and just exactly how one goes about the constant business of figuring out how to live.
“I’ve decided to nurture my friendships,” my friend said. “Because at the end of the day, what else is there?”
This morning, I woke up to a street full of sunshine and snow. I can barely see the pink house across the way through the branches of the trees in front of my windows all coated in the heavy kind of snow that’s best for snowballs and snowmen and a horror for backs. The sky is this most beautiful shade of blue like warm shallow ocean, a blue we seldom see here in winter. It’s the kind of day that demands you notice that almost everything we need to live is right there in water and sunlight. I spent a long time sitting in my living room drinking coffee and reading the newspaper with light coming at me from all sides, and I felt calm. There are things I want to do with my day, but nothing I must do. The gift I have given myself this last year is the freedom to choose.
And so I choose to take some time to write: this, a review, more work on an essay, and a note to my friend thanking her for the gift of lunch and conversation and friendship. I love so many of the the amazing things I’ve been able to do out in the great wide world, but all those things have been built on good meals, conversations, friendship, love, and hours of solitude when I sit and write–usually in a notebook a friend has given me, because I live in this wonderful world where people accept and support me and my love of simple things like paper.
Much of my life is built on paper.
Last night, I was out for another meal with another set of friends, at an Asian fusion place around the corner. When the waitress asked me how spicy I wanted my dinner, I said, “I want to sweat, but I don’t want to be in pain.”
She brought me what I wanted.
I ask the same of life.