Last weekend I rented a cargo van and drove to Malden with my friend Mary to pick up the last of my things from Matt’s storage unit: A big cherry-wood desk and matching chair, given to me by my mother when I lived in New York. It’s been exactly one year since Matt and I split. The symmetry of this date was both pleasant and painful. The multi-story storage center was empty when we arrived, halls of concrete and bright orange doors fanning out in front of us, like we had wandered into a Stanley Kubrick movie. When I opened the unit, a small one in the back, I saw my desk and chair alongside a number of items I once knew so well (his Army backpack, our bike rack) and a few things I did not (a Christmas wreath, a bag of women’s sweaters). Mary and I lugged my desk out, down the hall, and into the van. I locked the unit and we drove home.
The next day I woke up with a cold. A bad cold. A sore throat, body aching, tissue grabbing cold. And all I wanted, as is true whenever I have a cold, was soup.
I made a tomato soup—(this soup)—one creamy and thick with sourdough bread and bright with cumin and cilantro. It’s from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s JERUSALEM, which, as you know, is a book I love. Jessica made this same soup for my 30th birthday party a few months ago—a lovely, raucous night filled with great friends and goofy photos. I loved that evening, for both the fun of the moment itself and what it represented as a start to a new year. Because last year? It was a hard year. A good year, but a challenging year. A lot of things changed. I learned what it means to be proud of myself. I learned what it means to let go.
I shared this soup on Monday night with someone new, a someone that wants to share soup with me on a Monday night even if I’m sick and he may or may not believe soup actually qualifies as a meal. It’s early, so that’s all I’ll say about that. I know as well as anyone that life can change in an instant, can turn course on a dime.
But on Tuesday, I put the key to Matt’s storage locker in an envelope, which I then sealed, addressed, and stamped. I carried the envelope tucked in my purse for a day before I remembered to drop it into the mailbox outside my apartment building on my way to work.