daddy, i don’t know if you ever come here. perhaps with some prompting by mama? honestly, it doesn’t matter much considering you’ve got a keen sense on my life’s happenings by way of her daily updates. whether you read this or not, i just want to say thank you.
thank you for standing by me over these thirty-something years, for being the ears when i needed them most and the clarity when i felt blurred. you have a way about yourself that attracts vulnerability, and in the midst of this troubled world, when the roles of men and women are being scrutinized, i am thankful for a father who demonstrates sensitivity and mutual respect. you are the standard to which i measure the men in my life.
i never pictured what our adult relationship would be like, probably because the years progressed ever so naturally. but i can say now, it’ a beautiful thing. you helped mold me into the woman i am today, having given me the opportunities to explore, grow, and find my voice. through your protection, you allowed me to take risks. to fall in love.
thank you, daddy, for the late-night chats and financial advice. thank you for the laughs and the tough conversations. thank you for being the other half to mama, for being the man in her life. and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being everything i need in a father. i love you.
tony. can i call him that if i didn’t actually know him? it’s weird, because i felt like i did. i think we all felt that way.
last week, June 8th to be exact, the world lost a legend and a friend – anthony bourdain. though the news of his suicide was tragic, it had me thinking about gathering and how anthony brought light to its virtue. he traveled the world and mingled with culinary extraordinaires, opening our eyes to exotic foods and secluded locales. and yet with equal passion, he invited us along in his journey into private homes and street side corners, teaching us how to embrace home-cooked food prepared with utmost care. it was a gift, to be able to celebrate all cuisine, no matter the preparation, regardless of the environment in which it was shared.
as i reflect on the meals we’ve prepared, the gatherings we’ve hosted, and the community i’ve experienced over the dinner table (or coffee table/picnic blanket/plastic chair on the side of a street), i realize more and more that it’s not about the food itself. rather, it’s about the bringing together – of people, of ideas, of conversation and candidness. it’s about creating a sense of belonging. we eat for nourishment of not only the body, but more importantly, for the soul. for the spirit.
on the day of tony’s death, a dear friend texted me this:
“just watching this CNN anthony bourdain memorial and it’s so so sad…but it made me want to tell you this – all of the things they are saying about how he brought the world so much joy by gathering people over food and having amazing conversations and bringing people together – that’s how i feel about your patio! you create the same feeling of happiness and belonging for so many people, and you should know that.”
in that moment of meditating on those words, i felt a sense of peace come over me. like tony was there, sipping some bourbon, happy to know that his legacy will be lived through us…one gathering at a time.
i came across this excerpt today, and wow, does it resonate ever so deeply:
have patience with everything unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign tongue. don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, letters to a young poet
i don’t have many words to say in conjunction with this. probably because i am marinating in the beauty of it all. to live the questions now. one thing i do know, something that i can trust, is that there is a season for everything, that in by living and not waiting for some answer, we are better for it….
i spent memorial day weekend in maine for a friend’s wedding. five of us traveled to boston, then to the sleepy harbor town of Wells, where we rented an idyllic beach cottage. quintessential new england coast vibes. half of the trip planned by a friend and half by me, it had me thinking about homespaces and how i prefer to incorporate them, rather than your typical hotel, into my travels.
on our first night, we stayed in a boutique hotel in boston, replete with luxury amenities and skyline views. there were champagne buckets in every room, and if that wasn’t enough, a cocktail hour for the socialites among us. it would be a lie if i said i didn’t enjoy the nightly turndown service or the specialty chocolate deliveries. to be honest, it’s just not my preferred way to travel.
once we arrived to maine, we checked into our Airbnb, our home for the remainder of our stay. immediately, i explored the rooms, the kitchen drawers and cabinets, taking mental notes on how we were going to adopt this living space into our trip. within minutes, i felt a sense of comfort come over me, like i could unwind the only way one can unwind at home.
i don’t know what it is about my preference to stay in a home, albeit temporary, when i visit places. perhaps it’s the access to a kitchen, where meals can be prepared, capitalizing on that town’s particular fare. or maybe it’s the furniture, a reminder that it’s been lived in. i find joy in exploring the wabi-sabi of someone else’s home – its nooks and crannies and the stories they tell. for the extent of my stay, i am invited into that family’s living space, a reflection of their values, interests, life, however foreign.
i understand why some might resist the idea of making their own bed or grocery shopping while on vacation, but i see it as an opportunity to feel immersed in a new setting. when we create a home during our travels, it is then that we can truly be awakened to our surroundings. which is perhaps why i carry pieces of the world in my heart. which is why i feel as though i’ve truly lived, both near and far.
between the hours of three and five pm, i have a tea time.
when taken at home, i typically brew green or herbal tea leaves in a glass teapot that showcases the extraction of their color and flavor. it is guaranteed to be accompanied by a treat of some sort, most often chocolate, and always something sweet. weather permitting, i sit outside in our patio and begin to unwind. reset. ground myself in that moment.
i don’t consider tea time a luxury – this time to stop and sip and nibble away, wherever i may be. rather, it is an essential piece of my self-care toolkit. a ritual, if you will.
i’ve learned over the many years of practicing this ritual that its value in my physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing is worth every effort to incorporate into my day. that means if i am traveling, i will include it in my itinerary. if i’m at work, i will dedicate the latter portion of my break to it. i could be going a million miles a minute and, still, take the time to stop and just be.
when i started allowing myself to be in this space – this tea time – i soon realized how too often we deny ourselves the very things that strengthen us, that cultivate our spirits and center us amidst the spinning world in which we live. there are agendas and to-do lists, deadlines and errands. but what about the self? what about finding the ritual that puts everything on hold for the sole purpose of nourishing our innermost being? to have something to look forward to, even if the day feels like it’s going to shit?
if you know me well, then you know my mother. mama. she is a piece of me, sometimes more than i think. we have the kind of relationship that spans well beyond parent vs. child, mentor vs. mentee. it’s a friendship, a union.
i’ve never known anything more or less than what we have, and frankly, i can’t say i’d want to. it’s an uninhibited, transparent relationship that naturally weaves itself into the threads of our everyday. not a day goes by that doesn’t include multiple forms of phone exchange: some conversations heavy, others light. some with a purpose, others merely as inquiry.
i trust mama so much so that she knows the inner workings of my heart – the things that make it beat, or otherwise, tremor; the things that set its pace, its daily rhythm. my whole self is revealed to her and she to me.
and i think this is what scares me most about any prospect of becoming a mother – the idea that i could never replicate the magic that is our bond. what i share with mama – the intimacy we’ve created – is so uniquely exquisite that i would never even know where to begin. sure, you create a new life and build something special “because this child is your own,” but still, it will never be us.
i don’t know where i go from here, which path gino and i will (or will not) eventually take. all i am certain of is that i want to spend more time with mama. i want to memorize the lines on her face, the wrinkles on her hands. i want to walk with her, talk with her, see the world with her and through her eyes. i want to tell her my fears and listen to hers, contemplate life or just sit in silence. ultimately, i want to lounge in more patios and eat more treats and drink more wine, laughing wholeheartedly because we can, living because it’s all we have in this precious time.