Midnight Soup


The load of laundry I’ve been needing to do for a week is now tumbling around in the dryer.  It’s a soothing sound and it means that I have underthings for tomorrow after today’s forced death-march in the Spanx-style under-hosiery that felt like wearing an corset in inexplicable places.

The soup is now cooling on the stove top after I’ve cooked a head of cauliflower down with onions and garlic and chicken stock and eventually here, we’ll use the immersion blender with some creme fraiche and make this insanely marvelous soup.  I will actually eat that tomorrow.  Imagine! Cooking something and eating it the next day. How very novel.

The soup matters and the clean underwear matter because, of course, but also because tomorrow I need to do one or two things to make myself feel as though I somehow am trying in this life.  Because, unexpectedly, today, multiple people I know went into the shop and I looked like death warmed over if death wore a paper-thin veneer of foundation and the remnants of one pass with a bright coral lipstick that matched nothing.

One of those people was my 7th or 8th grade teacher, my art teacher and also the teacher for the semi-unusual class I got put in…GT (Gifted and Talented).  As part of this class, we went on a river trip that I think perhaps I have written about once here in the blog.  Possibly, and perhaps not at length.  At any rate, it was the full enchilada, camping and eating along the Green River, I remember the can-cooked peach cobbler, and sleeping overnight on the river in a teepee.  I remember, too, very viscerally, waking up that morning a few minutes before the rest of the 20 some others who were there and the air was brisk and cold, but the sunlight was not filtered through windows or broken in anyway, and we were on a plain where you could see for ages.  It was less imagining what it would have been like to be a Native American woman waking up to birdsong, and more having an experience of being a soul entirely untethered to any other and arising without artifice or expectation, suddenly embodied.  It was a very surreal 10 minutes, striding around the campsite while everyone slept, a blanket over my arms.

I’d forgotten that.  And the sunburn, and the river guide I fell in 7th grade love with, and my friend and I saying that this whole thing was stupid and dangerous, but together, we’d be okay.  That huge sinkhole at the last rapid where the guardian angel I have may have been conscripted. I was so young then.  So petrified, but moving ahead regardless of my fear.

And in walks is this lively woman, joking and laughing with my co-worker who is a retired teacher as well, and despite recognizing her almost immediately, for a good while, I decided internally not to say so.  I felt like a wreck, a mess, a failure.  I felt like I was slobby and awful and she wouldn’t remember me, because it wasn’t possible.  I was invisible then, and nothing had changed.  Nothing had changed! I didn’t want to be asked if I was married or if I’d scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro.  I didn’t want to be…well, I had reasons, suffice it to say.

But conversation passed and I am not a 7th grader, so I said I’ve been so quiet because I was trying to decide if I remembered that I had you as a teacher.  And she did remember me, remember that class.  I got her contact information and gave her mine because she might want to help somehow at the other job.  Retired art teacher and all.  Then, she smiled and put this top up to me and said at how nice it would look on me, and I said that she was a very good teacher and that was a very good time in my life.  It wasn’t disingenuous.

I guess this is growing up.

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