I lost it last night.
As I’ve been emptying out the house, I’ve come across all sorts of things which remind me of Connie; photos of a younger version whom, tragically, I never knew, old awards for some job excellence, thank-you letters from grateful clients and so on. Some of the things elicit a wry smile, some a strangled sob, and most a simple, “Oh, sweetheart.”
The kitchen has been the absolute worst. You see, amongst all her other achievements, Connie was a superlative cook, a cross between artist and artisan, and any of my Readers fortunate to have been guests at our dinner table will attest to that fact. Her spice “rack” (two overhead cupboards’ worth) overflowed onto the counter into four actual racks, and her utensils, from Le Creuset pots and pans to a wooden tortilla press — you don’t think we bought tortillas, do you? — were like the woodworking tools used by master craftsman Norm Abram: a means to create works of peerless quality. And unlike so many women, cooking for her was never a chore but a delight, just as long as she wasn’t asked to make prosaic stuff like sandwiches (I was deputized for that).
Back when I was working in Corporate America, I was in a meeting in my office with two of my subordinates when I got a call from my secretary: “It’s Connie; she apologizes but she has an important question for you.”
So I hit the speakerphone and said, “You’re on speaker, and I have Jim and Kenny here with me, so keep it clean.”
She laughed. “What do you want for dinner tonight?”
“I dunno; maybe just a salami sandwich?”
Icy silence. Then: “Hmph. Your choices are: Beef Burgundy or Banana Chicken Curry.”
“Oh. Okay, the curry sounds good,” and after the farewells I hung up, to see two pairs of eyes staring at me in astonishment.
“What’s the occasion?”
“You mean, she does this — cooks you this kind of meal — all the time?”
“Pretty much every night, unless we’re going out. But she doesn’t like to go to restaurants unless she’s tired.”
“She says she doesn’t like the way restaurants — even the good ones — screw up the food.”
So last night was Kitchen Night. I got about halfway through — tossed the spices which neither I nor the kids wanted or needed — but when I got to the copper saucepans, crepe cookers and ebelskiver pans, I ran into a wall. “I can’t do this, sweetheart… I just can’t do this anymore. It hurts too much,” and I collapsed against the counter, weeping like a little girl. If the earth had opened up and swallowed me at that moment, I would have welcomed it.
The kids (Daughter and BF along with Son&Heir and Canucki-Girlfriend) will finish the kitchen today and tomorrow. Without them, I would have just left the house, never to return. As it is, I could barely write this blogpost.
Sorry to unload on y’all, but I did warn you that there’d be days like this. Today, the isolation is not so splendid.