August 25, 2020 – from every kitchen I’ve made a meal in since March

photo 1_grace.jpeg
summer pasta

Where I lived before the pandemic hit—for eight months, in an old house near the Hudson River, with seven strangers who became my friends—I cooked from a small cupboard and a plastic fridge bin that should’ve had my name on it.


At first I wasn’t sure what part of the counter to take up, which stirring spoons were shared, and whether to start up conversation with whomever else was in the kitchen when I was. Usually it was dinnertime and often there were many of us, constantly shifting to the right or left of whatever drawer needed to be gotten into.


I want to say there was a tinge of impending heartbreak even then, as we scuffled out of each other’s way and waited turns for the sink, figuring out how to talk about good books and bad politics and sometimes movies I hadn’t seen. But we could talk about those things, usually happily, because this was before any sense of real tragedy started to take hold.


There is always a summer and that’s when I’d moved in.


My best friend had come from our hometown to help me and we made use of the kitchen our second night there, as she showed me to make a pasta sauce of garlic, cherry tomatoes and a bunch of fresh basil. We sheened our corner of the counter in olive oil and decided to add a side of baba ghanoush from the cookbook she’d brought me. We bought a baguette and there was a bread knife to slice it—wooden handled, stuck slanted to a knife strip, shining as pretty as everything I wanted my time there to be.


The backdoor was open to let the breeze in, the oven was warm, the garden was growing, and Luke rolled up on his white motorcycle. Asked if we were enjoying the sunset. Jessamine and Pascual juggled dinner plates and eggplant lasagna from the kitchen to the back table. Josh was upstairs working on his novel and Artemis was out late in the city, in a long skirt and high heels.


The cookbook Grace gifted me has been kept in storage since I moved out, just like neither time nor circumstance could’ve kept anyone else at the house in that town, together and especially as the fate of the world began hanging looser between us. That’s what it feels like. How summer pasta tasted good this season, but from a year later I miss how everything was when I learned it.