My apartment smells of cardamom and figs and toasted almonds.
I hug her mother goodbye, and so begins the crust with cream cheese. We read the recipe together, pulse the butter into the flour. The dough is shaggy right up to when it coheres - it’s always that way, nothing holds until it does. Baking is alchemy. I show her how to start with the heel of her hand at the center, then press the corners out. She learns the ingredient sequence of crusts: the dry, the fat, the liquid.
The filling is built on three eggs and a yolk whisked into two colors of sugar. Some buttermilk, cornmeal for luck, vinegar for balance, the outside of an orange zested and half its juice squeezed in. We take the cardamom cake out to cool and flip the crust into the pie pan. Trimming the edges, we press excess dough into leaf shapes (her choice), using a butter knife to score veins in our pastry foliage. Turtle beans weight tin foil as we bake the crust blind.
The filling firms up in the oven while we make a hard caramel, marveling equally that sugar and water will bubble and dissolve from clear into golden and finally amber to pour over almonds and harden into a sheet of candied stained glass to be broken into triangles and garnish the apple-fig-apricot tart.
She is a quick study, bookish and thoughtful, all legs as I was at her age - good for a dancer in this city that likes longer strides. We zip up our coats and go out to buy wine for the dinner tomorrow. Somehow we detour for ice cream, these things happen. We search the prepared case, decide against pumpkin, and go to the counter to consider. I ask for a pint with honeycomb stirred into vanilla to pair with our pie. She nods sagely. He smiles from the other side and asks if we are sure there aren’t any we need to sample before we leave. She tosses long brown hair just like mine in middle school over her shoulder. We pick a flavor, the same one, and he holds the small spoons out to us.
At the register I realize for the first time: I fit the neighborhood demographic. They think they know who I am, that this daughter isn’t borrowed, her daily triumphs and despair on me to assuage in the beautiful forever in front of her. When we cannot show what almost was, we fall back on our stories. Some of us lack visible evidence of the other lives we led, we are unable to present a manifestation of a choice. There was a moment when it was laughable to think on it - so much time! Such a world! Now it is like an excruciating garage door you wait to make sure has closed before driving away. More than a decade ago as a young bride—but here we are, the nice people need to be paid, and I will smile and give exact change and wish I could say yes, this one, she’s mine.
A few more days
A final Hi meeting
The local neighborhood bar has a quiet time between six and nine. It is a place that specializes in coffee, beer and seasonal menus. There is just enough of each for a satisfying snack and effective buzz. After the time when the laptop lids close and before the social gatherings start -- there is a sort of twilight*. Often this time is a fugitive ground rife with creative inspiration and meditative work -- of the kind that results in personal reward.*twilight may refer to civil, nautical or astronomical variety depending on your social or terrestrial condition
A man positions his mouse on the edge of his browser window. He clicks, holds and drags the viewport first left then right. The content of a video game promo micro site responds and adapts to the available space. To the man, this is more delightful than the game itself.
A man laboriously moves his piano down three levels onto the subway platform. Classic vocals and strided chords -- he played so well I swore he was blind. Oblivious to the heat on that August stage, he was most in touch with his audience -- whom he elevated with his music.
A woman should do exactly as she pleases no matter what a man may think.
As the Dalai Lama once said, "It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room."
"No one understands me," she said. Her grandmother was silent for a minute. It seemed she was searching for an answer in the star speckled sky. "But no one understands anyone in this world, darling. We are all unique. It is what gives us a sense of wonder."