I used to work full time, five days a week commuting into the city, and then three nights a week I would be teaching dance, and rehearsing on weekends if it was recital time. Sometimes I’d sleep at home, some nights after class I’d catch a late train back into the city so I could be with Jeeps. And when you’re young and in love, face it, sleep is overrated. We’d stay up too late and get up too early and then we were off to work again…
And I didn’t think twice about it. Youth is ignorant bliss. To be young and in love and in New York was bliss. Jeeps lived on the sixth floor of a six-floor walk-up on East 74th and First Avenue. I had a drawer in his dresser and space in the closet; it was an extra Daisy razor on his bathtub ledge next to my own shampoo bottles, and a copy of his key on my keychain. My books began to pile up on his bedside table, and half-and-half began showing up in the fridge.
We food shopped a few blocks away at Gristedes, and lugged the groceries home in a dozen plastic bags, trudging up the six flights of stairs. At some point, a green grocer opened on the corner below his apartment building, and then it seemed that all we ever ate was stir fried vegetables over pasta.
I’m sure we ate a lot of chicken this and chicken that; I remember making stuffed peppers once. But mostly I remember trawling that amazing green grocer on the corner and taking a bag of produce upstairs. Over wine or beers, Steely Dan on the stereo (remember the stereo?), we’d smash up a bunch of garlic cloves, chop up the vegetables and fill up Jeeps’ one and only skillet while pasta water boiled in his one and only pot. Then we’d eat watching the news or the Knicks game, and usually there was something like Coffee Heath Bar Crunch in the freezer.
And all this came back to me the other night when it didn’t seem there was anything to make for dinner. And Jeeps, now my husband, wrestling on the floor with our two kids, contemplated ordering Chinese Food. “No,” I said, “I think I can manage something…” And I poured my wine and put on my music.
Water was put to boil in my own soup pot. I smashed half a head of garlic and chopped up onions, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, zucchini, purple cauliflower. I sauteed them in the cast iron skillet I got as a wedding present, then added cherry tomatoes and tiny balls of marinated mozzarella cheese. I served up plates to my family and we ate them downstairs while watching the Knicks game.
Life has been good to me.