Yesterday I decided to make my version of Thai noodles and so I brought out the old Cuisinart food processor, remembering as I did so, the woman who gave it to me. Lisa and Nick are my husband’s oldest friends—really his mentors and surrogate parents. They decided to move north after retirement and she, an enthusiastic cook, wanted to start fresh with pots and pans and such in her new kitchen. So she gave me some of her old stuff.
At that time I had a view of meal creation that was less about creation and more about check-off-the-box. I had lived on a farm where I grew most of my food, meat included, and the growing and processing of it took up most of my time outside of my going-to-work job.
My favorite cookbook then was a Mennonite cookbook and it was all about large quantities and efficiency. I would prep ingredients for the week on Sunday and stick them in the freezer. When I got home from work (a fifty mile each way commute) I would look at the schedule (yes, a schedule!) on the refrigerator, (“Monday, chicken casserole, Tuesday: veggie medley, etc.) pull out the appropriate packages from the freezer and assemble it.
But life goes on and the farm and my life on it became history, and now here was Lisa, giving me some really nice kitchen things. There was the Cuisinart, copper saucepans, and Le Creuset skillets. I didn’t know how wonderful these things were at the time, being more familiar with meat grinders and such. But over the years, as I continue to use these substantial, solid kitchen tools—the very antithesis of planned obsolescence—I marvel both at Lisa’s generosity and at her intuition in knowing that someday I would expand my creativity into cooking.
There are gifts that are brief moments of thought, and gifts that are a fulfillment of an obligation, and then there are the gifts that abide through time and thick-and-thin, and enduring friendship is the best of those.
There is a man I first met through my husband, who immediately embraced me with the same trust and love that embodies his friendship with Richie. Several times a year he sends gifts—wine, fresh fruit from Florida, chocolates, jams and jellies. He always ‘likes’ what I say on Facebook, and he always adds something supportive.
He has not had a charmed life. He was sent to Vietnam to fight and there he witnessed, first hand, the horrors of that war. But it didn’t harden him, rather the opposite. His life experience in Vietnam gave him the opportunity of turning mean and cynical, but instead he chose another way. Knowing at some deep level that to hate, was to hate oneself, he turned to humanity, having witnessed inhumanity.
He lives his life to connect to others with love and he does it perfectly. He—and the ones like him—the ones who choose love over hate, trust over fear, compassion over cruelty, they are the great ones.
This morning I woke up with the light of the setting full moon splashing over my pillow. It woke me from a dream about an old house I used to live in. In my dream I was looking for the house, but I couldn’t find it. Where it had been was now a strip mall and light industries. But it was just a dream.
In my real life—that is to say, my waking life—that house wasn’t just any old house. It was the place I fixed up for eight years. I glazed windows, sawed floorboards, painted walls, split wood, learned to farm, and grew most of my own food. It was a time of self-reliance and it taught me, that if I put my mind to it, I could do anything. So to dream that it was all gone, lost under a tide of human activity unconscious to the deeper forces that connect us to the earth and to each other—what did that mean? I also dreamt, within that dream, that my two best friends from high school were with me; even though one of them had committed suicide more than thirty years earlier and the other I haven’t had any contact with.
This dream could have easily been a nightmare, but it wasn’t. In the dream I felt some frustration and a little sadness that I couldn’t find my old house again, but I was not much distressed. I think the dream was telling me that even profound experiences and the memories they create have a limited shelf life within our psyches. It was time to let them—the old house and my friends—go. Whatever purpose their existence had had in my life was fulfilled. The memory was neutralized, no longer active. The pattern was completed.
Full moon dreams stir the depths, bringing them to light. And this full moon was showing me it’s time to stride ahead, confident and unencumbered.