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Tag Archives: home

Where are you going, where have you been?

10 Feb

This doesn’t actually have anything to do with the Joyce Carol Oates story of the same name. I just love that title. I also love the story and recommend it to anyone else who is likewise fascinated with American fables.

The shoe tree on the drive from Seattle to Reno.

The shoe tree on the drive from Seattle to Reno.

 

“Where are you from originally?”

It’s my most dreaded of questions that new acquaintances ask me. It is also one of the most common in a city of immigrants and transplants. I’ve always struggled with how to answer. Buffalo? Reno? Seattle?

My answer is Seattle, because if I have to launch into a discussion about one of those cities, Seattle is the place I want to talk about. Plus I lived there for five years. But I’m also coming up on my five-year anniversary of living in New York.

Five years. I can’t believe it. Instead of wearing it like a New Yorker badge of honor like a lot of people do, I find myself wondering, “How did that happen?”I can demarcate my time in this city by the different periods where I was sure I was going to leave, where I hatched a plan and set a secret date for my Exodus. But here I am.

I think of the day I left Seattle. I crashed at my friend Eric’s apartment, because I had sold him all my furniture and had no where to sleep. He drove me back to my apartment on a foggy morning. He called it “Chrissy weather,” that perfect mixture of summer fog that dissipates by mid-afternoon. I packed up the last of the things into my Jeep and headed to the coffeeshop where I had worked for three years. My boss Anna gave me treats for the road and everyone hugged me. It was a Sunday, and I set my radio to listen to the Mariner game. I drove South on I-5, passing the stadium. The farther South I got, the less I could get the game on the radio. I wiped a couple of tears from my eyes and ignored the voice screaming inside of me that told me not to leave.

Six years later, I can’t believe where I am and what I’ve been through. I never thought Reno would lead to New York. I never thought I’d get to go to Japan and Iceland. I never thought I’d become a veterinary technician. I’m a happier person now than I was when I left Seattle, but it’s a strange thing to mark the passage of time. What would life have been like if I had turned the Jeep around and driven back into Seattle? It’s foolish to think about, because I will never know.

It’s a bittersweet feeling to realize that soon I will have lived in New York longer than I lived in Seattle. What does that mean exactly? Am I from here now? Can I no longer claim Seattle a home? Why doesn’t that make me happy? Most importantly, what do I do next? Where do I go?

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29 Before 29: Make Jambalaya

8 Dec

In my 29th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

This year for Thanksgiving, I got to go back to Reno and spend the week with my parents. It was a rare treat as traveling to Reno from New York is a full-day affair. I hadn’t been back in two years, and I was shocked by how much I enjoyed my respite in the desert. Shopping with mom, watching football on their beautiful new entertainment unit, cuddling with their new dog Holly, karaoke at 2am in downtown Reno with my ladylove Danguole, and of course lots of eating.

One of the nights I was home, my mom and I collaborated on producing a beautiful Jambalaya recipe.

My adorable mom and your little sous-chef Holly.

My adorable mom and our little sous-chef Holly.

I adore a good jambalaya. It’s a perfect comfort food. All that starch from the rice, good flavorful protein in the shrimp and sausage, healthy vegetables, a kick of spice. We used this recipe from Barefoot Contessa, and my mom and I spent a lot of time debating whether Ina Garner is creepy or not. She’s a great cook, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just something insidious about her.

Before adding the rice. So colorful!

Before adding the rice. So colorful!

Cooking at my parent’s house is such a treat. So many beautiful bowls and gadgets. Everything is so clean and organized. My mother’s kitchen is a Type A heaven. There’s also something so nostalgic about cooking with my mom. One of the million things I’m grateful for in my upbringing is how much effort my mother always put into having a healthy home cooked meal for us almost every night. I always wanted to help, and she would give me an innocuous task that she knew I couldn’t mess up, like spinning the water out of the lettuce or rinsing the vegetables. But I’m an adult now, and she lets me chop! She lets me stir! We consult and confer! It’s that amazing transition from your mother being your guardian to your mother being one of your best friends.

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Look at this beautiful spice drawer. The organization and cleanliness makes me weak in the knees.

It turned out pretty good. The shrimp lacked as much flavor as the rest of the dish but overall it was everything I wanted jambalaya to be. And leftovers! Being young and poor, it’s important to me to make foods that heat up well the next day, so I can get the most bang for my buck. I think the jambalaya would reheat well. Of course, I never got to test that theory as we were soon swept away in the binge eating of Thanksgiving. I gained almost 5lbs while I was home. A successful trip indeed.

Finished product.

Finished product.