Over a nice dinner in one of the finer restaurants we’ve enjoyed on the trip, Jerry asks me if I miss cooking. No, I quip, taking another bike of crab ravioli in tomato vodka sauce. Within an hour, though, I begin to miss cooking. I miss making pizzas, making my daily lunch salads, making chocolate bark – that special evening treat with dried fruit and toasted almonds that I started experimenting with last year. I miss making my mother-in-law’s brisket, Eva and Bill’s summer marinades, my mother’s coq au vin, my sister’s Cajun shepherd’s pie (really Paul Prudholme’s, but Maura got me hooked on it). Within that same hour, I begin to miss a lot of things:
- Writing group
- Book group
- Dinner with friends
- Meeting people for coffee or a drink or a walk
- My little office with the writing loft
- Our favorite restaurants
- Burlington, in general
- My computer
- My car
- My bed
- Bondi and Mango, our dog and cat
I am suddenly sick with everything I miss, and have to turn off the flow, close the spigot, using a clever combination of denial and self-trickery.
The cooking issue returns some time later, as we cycle toward our final stop in North Carolina: an Inn in the small town of Sunbury. The town is not blessed with a restaurant, I learn when I call to book a reservation. I try, very subtley at first, and then not so subtley, to get the inn’s owners to offer to include us in their dinner plans. They do not take the hint. We have a grocery store in walking distance, they say. And you are welcome to use our microwave. (Microwave? Isn’t that just for cold coffee? What???)
The evening in Sunbury is actually very pleasant. Our hosts are interesting people with fascinating backgrounds. They are entrepreneurs. In addition to running their inn, they are developing plans to turn the old school next door into senior housing.
That night, Jerry and I walk to the grocery store. It has even less to offer for dinner than you might expect, having seen grocery stores in other developed nations. But they do have Stouffers lasagna, and we buy a box of that and return to the inn. Our hosts make room in the kitchen, where they are heating up their own frozen pizza in the oven, and introduce us to their microwave. We cook the lasagna in the microwave! Wow. (Who knew?) We eat the lasagna. It does not suck.
My yen to cook returns, but I can handle it. At least it will be there for me when I get home. I manage to feel lucky to enjoy cooking. And I re-tighten the spigot against all those other things I miss.