My day was good.
If you would have asked me hours ago how my day was, I would have used a different adjective. One with much more color, I’d imagine. The same for the weekend… Damn, if you would have asked me months ago how my day was, I probably wouldn’t be able to finish the sentence without crying. I’ve gone through a lot over the past several months- things that emptied me, leaving me as skin and rusty tear ducts. And I’m now starting to feel like I am finally filling back up again. And it’s funny how the little things can mean so much after feeling like that.
I spent the morning working on the article about my recent Long Island work trip that I need to turn in to my editor (like yesterday). It gave me a headache. The kind of headache that comes with eye socket soreness and neck stiffness. The kind of headache that inevitably follows staring at a computer screen for hours. I wasn’t happy about my writing, was beginning to feel uninspired…
And altogether just not good.
I had a birthday while I was in New York. It was the first time I’d ever been away from my family on a birthday. It was the first time I’d ever woken up alone on my birthday. It felt weird. I told the tears to go away whenever that thought entered my head and began to seem sad. I would close my eyes and shake my head really fast to make them disappear. Like an etch-a-sketch, I cleared my canvas from the clutter and started a new line. It felt ridiculous to even consider being sad. I’m 35 and was in a new place on my birthday. My job is to go tour around this new place and then come home and write about it?? That’s incredible. Grow up, I kept telling myself. Act your age.
I had a great day on September 20th. It wasn’t a great day about me. It was a great day about other things. My birthday was busy with the work that brought me there, I was surrounded by new friends, and I received such lovely notes from old friends and family back home all day long. My husband (with so many other wonderful things) had the hotel put a bottle of champagne on ice in my room as a surprise. I went to bed that night in Montauk feeling so overwhelmed by love from the people back home. And thankful for being able to be doing something so fun and different.
Then the trip ended and I came home and it was no longer my birthday. Somehow it doesn’t feel like I had a birthday because I haven’t spent it with my family. It feels like it never happened. I let that get to me today as I was writing my article. I needed a break.
I suited up for grocery shopping and another gym session. I found myself wandering the aisles of the grocery store for three times longer than I intended. I think it just felt nice to be away from a screen and a blinking cursor, and I got caught up with being able to pick something up and hold it in my hands. I got caught up with not having a place to be at a specific time, and a deadline I needed to hit. I put my groceries inside the cooler in the back of my car and headed to the gym.
It felt good to be breathing heavy and moving.
I went to my local health food market and stocked up on the things I’ve had on my list for months. So many of my pantry staples had dwindled down to dust in their jars- flour, barley, farro, lentils… I filled tiny zip bags of the things I needed and I labeled them.
It felt good to be crossing things off a list.
It felt good to have a label for something.
I stacked the zip bags in unnecessary, but delightful rows inside of my cart.
It felt good to start with something, change it to be something different, and have it not break.
I bought local steelhead trout, pork loin and a whole chicken. I eyed the grass-fed ribeyes and made a mental note to return for Friday’s dinner. I bought end-of-season, local corn, local milk and eggs, and in the line waiting to pay, I bought dark chocolate candies mixed with local, raw honey. I hadn’t eaten since the piece of cold carrot-feta quiche I shoved in my mouth at my computer hours ago. I ate my honey chocolate in the car and let it linger on my tongue as I drove home.
It felt good to have something sweet.
I came home and I unloaded my car, I put away groceries. I refilled the desolate, glass jars in my cupboard and made them happy again. Red lentils filled the small one near the back, khaki pearls of barley overflowed in the large jar up front, snow white sea salt tumbled into the one with the painted black lid, and spelt flour delighted in spilling into the old coffee can. With each jar I opened and then emptied, with each zip bag I unzipped and shook upside down until dust escaped, a new energy and life was brought into the room. I breathed it in.
It felt good to be filling something up.
I wrapped up the loaves of sourdough bread I made that morning and put them in the freezer for the weeks to come. I made the orange-clove brine for the pork loin I will cook tomorrow night. I made granola we will add to our greek yogurt for snacks during the week, I made the kid’s school lunches, I wrote our meal plan for the week. I made our dinner for the night- Roasted Steelhead Trout with Lemon… Blistered, Local Corn… And a Balsamic Spinach-Arugula Salad using the 18 year-aged vinegar given to me in Stony Brook by a woman with painted-on, red eyebrows.
And I did all of this with local, raw honey on my face. Part accident, part intentional act. While making the granola, the honey bear got a little excited and I ended up with hands coated in honey. Instead of wiping it off and wasting it (those bees worked so hard!), I rubbed it on my face and enjoyed a bonus antibacterial mask while I worked.
I bathed the kids while the trout finished in the oven, I quickly bathed and de-honeyed myself as it rested. My daughter stood, tip-toed on her stool and tossed the dressing into the salad with the fancy spoons and we all sat and ate a dinner that I felt so very good about feeding them.
As I was plating the dinner, I stopped to recognize the feeling of good-ness I had inside of me. It was so new. And unfamiliar. I sat with it. I lingered on it. I dissected it and found its source.
It simply felt good to be filling an empty space again.
I am 35. I have more lines on my face than I did last year and in a sense, I feel like I aged and grew and matured more over the summer than I have in years. So maybe I didn’t get a real birthday this year. I had a good day on September 20th. It was different. And it was fun. And I feel like today was the start of my new year. Filling so many tiny vessels with newness, crossing things off lists I’ve had for months, creating things that will fuel my family… all of those little things added to a big feeling. I feel like I grew up a lot today. I feel 35 now.
And it feels good.