It’s Thanksgiving. Come On Home.

I would be spending Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, a thousand miles from home…“I don’t think I can stand it here,” I said during the weekly call to my parents that Sunday. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Just come home,” my father said. I was crying by then. “It’s too late,” I said. “It’s way too late.”

“You can always come home, Sweet,” he said…

Those were words of loving reassurance from a parent to his child, a reminder that as long as he and my mother were alive, there would always be a place in the world for me, a place where I would always belong, even if I didn’t always believe I belonged there.

But I wonder now, three decades later, whether my father’s words were more than a reminder of my everlasting place in the family. I wonder now whether they were also an expression of his own longing for the days when all his chicks were still in the nest, when the circle was still closed and the family he and my mother had made was complete. We were an uncommonly close family, and I was the first child to leave home. But I gave no thought to my parents’ own loneliness as they pulled away from the curb in front of my apartment in Philadelphia, an empty U-Haul rattling behind Dad’s ancient panel van, for the drive back to Alabama without me.

I gave no thought to it then, but I think of it all the time now. My youngest child left for college in August, and this house has never seemed so empty. It’s not actually empty. My husband is still here, and my father-in-law still comes over for supper most nights. Because we have a big extended family and friends often passing through on their way somewhere else, hardly a week goes by without guests in our guest room. Last summer, anticipating my own sadness once our sons were at school, I put out the word in our neighborhood that I was happy to be a backup car pool driver or homework wrangler, but the presence of borrowed children in this house, though joyful, is also an aching reminder of the years gone by with my own.

No matter how full my life is with marriage and work and relatives and friends and the cares of citizenship in a struggling world, I miss my children. Every day, I miss my children, and as I wait for them to come home for Thanksgiving, I think of my father’s words across a bad landline connection in 1984 that reached my homesick heart in cold Philadelphia. I remember the 26-hour bus ride into the heart of Greyhound darkness that followed, a desperate journey that got me home in time for the squash casserole and the cranberry relish, and I hope my sons know now as surely as I knew it then, as surely as I have known it my entire life: Whatever happens, they can always come home. They can always, always come on home.

~ , excerpts from “It’s Thanksgiving. Come On Home.” (The New York Times, Nov 22, 2017)


Notes: Essay – Thank you Rachel. Illustration – Pinterest

a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food

DAVIES: (Laughter) OK. We’re speaking with Anthony Bourdain. He has a new cookbook called “Appetites.” This is an interesting cookbook to look at and to read. You write in it there’s nothing remotely innovative in the recipes. You’re lifting them from imperfect memories of childhood favorites. Why this kind of book?

BOURDAIN: Well, I wanted it to be useful, approachable, reflective of the life I’ve lived over the past eight or nine years as a father, as opposed to a professional trying to dazzle with, you know, pretty pictures and food that’s different than everybody else’s. No, I wanted to make a beautiful cookbook, creative-looking one spoken in honest, straightforward, casual terms that gives the reader reasonable expectations, that encourages them to organize themselves in the way that I’ve found to be useful as a professional.

But as far as the recipes, you know, when I cook at home, it’s with a 9-year-old girl in mind. I mean, she’s who I need to please. And if she’s not happy, I’m not happy. The whole house revolves around her and her friends, so it’s reflective of that. It’s also reflective of, I think, age and all those years in the restaurant business.

Most chefs I know after work do not want to go out to dinner and be forced to think about what they’re eating in a critical or analytical way. They want to experience food as they did as children, in an emotional way, the pure pleasure of that bowl of spicy noodles or even a – you know, a bowl of soup that their mom gave them on a rainy day when they’d been bullied in school. I mean, that’s a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food. So these are recipes that hopefully – where I try to evoke those kinds of feelings and emotions.

~ Anthony Bourdain, from an interview in 2016 titled  On ‘Appetites,’ Washing Dishes And The Food He Still Won’t Eat (NPR.org, “Fresh Air“, October 20, 2017)

Bourdain’s cookbook can be found here: Appetites: A Cookbook


Notes:

Have you had it with news, fake news, politics, etc.? Be swept away for a moment. (55 sec)

Miracle. All of it.

I sat down next to her. The midwife pulled up Linda’s sweater and bared her belly, then put some transparent jelly on it, moved the little probe over the skin, and on the screen across the room your body emerged, surrounded by dark liquids and close walls. The image, with all its grainy zones and shadowy, almost dreamlike movements, looked as though it was being transmitted from a place far, far away, in outer space or down in the depths of the ocean, and it was impossible to connect the image with either the humdrum room we were sitting in or with Linda’s faintly bulging stomach, even though I knew that that was where it came from. In a sense the feeling I had of enormous distance was accurate, for the prenatal state, the body growing inside a hollow filled with liquids within the mother’s body, and there apparently repeating every developmental stage that the human being has undergone, is connected to the primordial, and is separated from us by an abyss, not in space but in time. And yet modern technology is what makes this image possible. And then the being we were watching was you. It was you moving your limbs so slowly, not a lizard or a turtle. We saw your heart, it was beating fast the way it was supposed to and had all the chambers it should have. We saw your face, the little nose, and we saw the brain, small but complete. We saw the spine, the hands, the fingers, the shin bone, the thigh bone. You lay with your legs pulled up to your chest, and you kept moving one of your hands, which seemed to float off on its own, opening, closing. They told us that in all probability you are a girl.

So you are Anne.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from “Letter to an Unborn Daughter” in “Autumn


Notes:

Miracle. All of it.

When the first teeth appear, these little stones slowly pushed up through the child’s red gums, appearing at first like sharp little points, then standing there like miniature white towers in the mouth, it is hard not to be astonished, for where do they come from? Nothing that enters the baby, mostly milk but also a little mashed banana and potato, bears the slightest resemblance to teeth, which in contrast to the food are hard. Yet this must be what happens – that certain substances are extracted from this partly liquid, partly soft nourishment and transported to the jaws, where they are assembled into the material used to make teeth. But how? That skin and flesh, nerves and sinews are formed and grow is perhaps just as great a mystery, but it doesn’t feel that way. The tissue is soft and living, the cells stand open to each other and to the world in a relationship of exchange. Light, air and water pass through them in human beings and animals as well as in plants and trees. But teeth are entirely closed, impervious to everything, and seem nearer to the mineral world of mountains and rock, gravel and sand. So what really is the difference between rocks formed by hardening lava and then eroded by wind and weather over millions of years, or formed by infinitely slow processes of sedimentation, where something originally soft is compressed until it becomes hard as diamond, and these little enamelled stones, which at this very moment are pushing up through the jaws of my children as they lie asleep in the dark of their rooms? To the oldest two, growing and losing teeth has become routine. But the youngest one still finds it a source of great excitement. Losing your first tooth is an event, also your second and perhaps even your third, but then inflation sets in, and the teeth seem to just drop out, loosening in the evening in bed, so that next morning I have to ask why there are bloodstains on the pillow, or in the afternoon in the living room while eating an apple, and it’s no longer a big deal. ‘Here, Daddy,’ one of them might say, handing me the tooth.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from “Teeth” in “Autumn


Notes:

  • Photo: Kymberly Orcholski with “new teeth
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Miracle. All of it.

28 August. Now, as I write this, you know nothing about anything, about what awaits you, the kind of world you will be born into. And I know nothing about you. I have seen an ultrasound image and have laid my hand on the belly in which you are lying, that is all. Six months remain until you will be born, and anything at all can happen during that time, but I believe that life is strong and indomitable, I think you will be fine, and that you will be born sound and healthy and strong. See the light of day, the expression goes. It was night outside when your eldest sister, Vanja, was born, the darkness filled with swirling snow. Just before she came out, one of the midwives tugged at me, You catch, she said, and so I did, a tiny child slipped out into my hands, slippery as a seal. I was so happy I cried. When Heidi was born one and a half years later, it was autumn and overcast, cold and damp as October can be, she came out during the morning, labour was rapid, and when her head had emerged but not yet the rest of her body, she made a little sound with her lips, it was such a joyous moment. John, as your big brother is called, came out in a cascade of water and blood, the room had no windows, it felt like we were inside a bunker, and when I went out afterwards to call his two grandparents, I was surprised to see the light outside, and that life flowed on as if nothing in particular had happened. It was 15 August 2007, it may have been five or six o’clock in the afternoon, in Malmö, where we had moved the previous summer. Later that evening we drove to a patient hotel, and the day after I went to pick up your sisters, who amused themselves greatly by placing a green rubber lizard on top of John’s head. They were three and a half and nearly two years old at the time. I took photos, one day I’ll show them to you.

That’s how they saw the light of day. Now they are big, now they are used to the world, and the strange thing is that they are so unalike, each of them has a personality entirely their own, and they always did, right from the start. I assume that’s how it will be with you too, that you already are the person you will become.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter to an Unborn Daughter, August 28.” Excerpt from opening story in his new book titled “Autumn” (Penguin Press, August 22, 2017)


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly.

The love a parent feels for a child is strange…

It’s like trying to describe sand between your toes or snowflakes on your tongue to someone who’s lived their whole life in a dark room.

It sends the soul flying.

~ Fredrick Backman, from Beartown: A Novel (Atria Books; Tra edition, April 25, 2017)


Notes:

  • Photo: Kristy G. Photography (via Newthom)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Flying Over I-40 S. With Repose.

Cut me some slack. It was a long day. Too long to even share a "It's been a long day" post. Ok, so I didn't know what "repose" meant.  I turned it in my head: Pose…Portrait…Re-pose…Repeat…Poster…Model posing…Model posing? Wow.

“Please repeat the word.”

“And now the origin of the root please.”

A nine year old would have nailed this in a Spelling Bee.

Like it makes a bloody difference. Long day or short day, I don't have a clue what it means. Google it Dummy.

It's 10:15 p.m. and I'm flying over I-40 heading South – reflecting on last night.  It was 8:30 pm.  The house is empty, the TV is spewing white background noise and I’m sprawled out on the couch.

I'm flipping through my RSS feeds and stop. I can't seem to untangle myself from a passage written by Sadegh Hedayat:  “Henceforth I lived like a soul in torment. All my waiting, watching and seeking were in vain.[…] Repose was utterly denied me. How could I have found repose?”

Like a rock skipping over water, the mind ignores words that don’t fit and locks on words that seem to have a mysterious grip. [Read more…]

Have I?

This coming Sunday, in homes across the nation, millions of American men will awake to the arrival of breakfast in bed. Prepared and served by their children, these Father’s Day repasts convey appreciation as well as contributing to the general bonhomie of the day to come. But as he sips his coffee from his “World’s Greatest Dad” mug, even the most obtuse father has to ask himself: Have I been the man my children deserve?

~ William McGurn, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Father’s Day, wsj.com, June 12, 2017


Photo by Julien Stenger

Son, this one is for you (wow)

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