Matzo Ball Soup.Tonight she made soup.
This morning, he left in anger after she picked a fight with him. She was feeling suffocated by the predictable conclusions of their every day existence. Rewind one year, two, even five years, and the view seemed just the same. Life had become an old film strip, continuously whirring and flipping around the same reel.
She needed to know that it wouldn’t always be like this, that they wouldn’t always live to pay rent and never lose those extra pounds achieved by endless nights of swilling vodka. Although she had followed an exciting and vastly different path, she felt she had come up with the same conclusions reached by those silly girls with poofball bangs who had dictated her life in high school.
She thought by making soup she would fill their apartment with the smell of cooked food and thus inspire comfort to both their souls. She could apologize without actually admitting any responsibility for the situation. The rest of her day had been spent cleaning the wreckage laid waste by the tumult of their early squabble. She called friends and wrote in her journal.
An hour of yoga in the afternoon had not given her any respite, but only reminded her of her inadequacies, her inflexibility.
Earlier, she stood inside Duane Reade looking for Post-It’s when she decided to call him at work.
“I was thinking of making dinner if you’re hungry.”
“Yeah. That sounds good.”
“What do you want?”
She pondered for a moment, wondering how she would cook steak and how many hours she would spend on the elliptical machine burning off steak. He laughed and interrupted her pondering.
“Just kidding. Whatever you make is fine.”
“I gotta finish up here.”
“All right. I’ll see you later.”
It took her half an hour to figure out something to make. She wandered the aisles of the twenty-four hour Gristedes looking for something different to make for dinner. Her cooking skills were fine, but her immediate repertoire was limited.
It was almost eleven o’clock at night, so she didn’t want to make anything too rich that would make her feel worse about herself. The store was in violent disarray, crates of juice boxes sat in piles awaiting unpacking, the shelves were stocked but mismatched. Briefly, she pondered hunks of sad pink meat peering out of the deli case. She wandered down the Pasta-Sauce-Soup aisle hoping for inspiration when she came upon the Jewish food section.
Previously in the day, she found herself desiring matzo ball soup and suddenly she wondered if she could make it herself. She picked up a Manischewitz package for instant soup and fingered the picture of fluffy white dumplings. There was a sticky film on the box that made her recoil. She placed the instant soup box down and stepped back.
As she stared at the gefilte fish and potato pancake mix, she inhaled deeply. The smell of this grocery store reminded her of the musty sweetness of the Associated Supermarket she used to frequent in Bushwick, Brooklyn, when they had moved into their first apartment together in New York.
He found a huge industrial loft space that they couldn’t afford, but also couldn’t afford to turn down. She had asked him to come to New York with her, and having no apartment of her own to offer, they lived for two months in a two bedroom apartment with her three best friends, all gay men. It was not the healthiest living situation for a couple in emotional limbo.
The Bushwick apartment was on the first floor of what used to be a sewing factory. They had to lie to the utility companies and say they were starting a business since the space was leased to them as a commercial loft. The lease was for 1700 square feet of empty room with just a refrigerator and a bathroom.
They had to build walls and rooms and purchase a stove. Before they could afford a stove, they had a toaster oven and a coffee maker. She cooked soup in the coffee pot and roasted vegetables in aluminum foil in the toaster oven.
She would shop in that grocery store that smelled like a basement. The aisles were stocked with every imaginable type of bean canned by Goya Foods: pinto, red kidney, chick peas, black-eyed peas. The music piped into the store was merengue and salsa. The checkout girls called her, "Mami."
There had been a quiet desperation to their life in Brooklyn. They were too old to be casually open about their relationship, but too young to stop hoping to be consumed by passion. For each other or for someone as yet unknown.
When he called to tell her that he was on his way home, she told him that dinner was ready. As he hung up, she sensed that anxiety that signaled the end of her freedom, the end of her solitude.
She valued the time she got to spend alone. She would sit in silence and not listen to his breathing or his movements. It was in those moments that she felt free, her soul pushed lightly out of her body and extended towards an internal horizon. Her mind was not muddled with impertinent questions about whether their love for each other would every be enough. The anxieties taunting her today came from her fear of the solidness of the future.
She sat at their dining room table in their smaller, but more established Manhattan apartment and inhaled the smell of coconut chicken soup. She waited.
File under: Matzo, Kosher, Godot.