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Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Spice of Life

It is almost 11am on a glorious Saturday morning after a brutal early evening thunderstorm that knocked out power to much of the neighborhood.  I’ve been up for hours, having just returned from Janet’s house.  She’s a dear friend and is relocating to California at the end of the month. I will miss her terribly but I am happy for her too. This is something we’ve been talking about for years and is her dream realized.  It’s hard not to dwell on the sorrow of saying goodbye but I understand that friendship is never limited by geography in this most miraculous age where high tech facilitates high touch. 

This is most evidenced by my time spent on Facebook, so often instant chatting long distance with friends in distant places. It helps that I’m fast on the keyboard but I try not to hijack the conversation. The back and forth nature of it actually captures more of my intent than a typical in-person polite conversation does, where spoken language is more linear. You know how when you’re talking to someone, you have to listen to what they have to say before responding or changing the subject?  The automaticity of these written instant zings back and forth enables both parties to “speak” at once, to share any thoughts ---however unrelated ---in real time, and to refer back to what someone has said just in case you weren’t “listening” or your mind strayed off as you were trying to remember whatever it was you wanted to say at some point later in the conversation. I find I value this more as I grow older.  This electronic process enables me to refer back to my “notes” and theirs.  Ironically, many of my far-flung friends know more about me and how I think, than many of my physically closer ones.  The spontaneity of this format of exchange appeals to me.  Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

So Janet is soon to be a “distant” friend, but only geographically.  In preparation for this departure I was there this morning helping her empty out her kitchen cabinets. We pulled out all of the spices and seasoning treasures and in doing so shared another dimension of our friendship – Cooking.  Janet is originally from the Midwest – Ann Arbor, she’s Black and she’s an awesome cook, just one of her many talents.  I’m a Jew from New Jersey, love to cook and over the years we have swapped foods and dishes like other friends share books.  Her repertoire and mine are different but we have a great appreciation of what tastes good.  Her fried avocado slices and chili dishes are to die for. She practically purred over my plum pies and homemade soups.

She’s lived in her condo for years and amassed, as we do, years of stuff – including said spices.  She had two cabinets full to be discarded.  As the countertop became littered with pretty little bottles and jars, I pointed out her 6 jars of chili powders, 4 jars of red peppers flakes and in the way way back, long forgotten, packages of things that were older than this century.  How often have we purchased new things, shoved older things to the back of our cabinets and forgotten about what we already had? What life lesson might be learned from this, I wonder.   

We sorted out food for the local food bank, tossed out faded passions and she passed on the “bought with the best of intentions practically brand new” goods to me.  I now have a variety of rubs and spices and chocolate powders that will keep Janet here in my kitchen and always in my heart.    

In commemoration of her move, I prepared a special gift for her, a CD of songs each of which has a special meaning as a reflection of our friendship and the magic she has added to my life.  Just like that in person conversation, the words I might say or write were not enough to convey what was in my heart. Language is limited no matter our eloquence or intent.  It is the sumptuous soundtrack of our lives that adds the spice.  

To see more of Janet's fabulous art visit her website:

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece, and I agree with you about distance not being what it was (Hey, look at us, right?) I read your piece right after sending off some digital music and exchanging thoughts with my evil twin brother/drinking buddy/unindicted co-conspirator in Belgium. When we were over there, Judy and his wife hit it off big time, and they're in touch all the time.

    And as a fellow speed typist -- yeah, it's a definite advantage. (The president of our division at Honeywell once was passing by my cubicle and stopped in because he didn't believe I was actually typing real copy at the speed I was going. Just one of the talents I picked up as a wire service reporter.)