2012 seemed to stretch on forever. I am not absolutely certain why, but I have a hunch it’s because I spent an incredible amount of time not staying put last year. California – New York – Arizona – California – Guatemala – New York – Guatemala – Arizona (not to mention all of the running around I did in Guatemala) – the list is dizzying and makes me think I should have bought stock in United Airlines as I am sure I single-handedly boosted it’s end-of-year financial report. And while I wouldn’t give up any of those locations, the experiences I suffered through or the ones that brought such joy to my heart I would pay to do over again, they took a lot out of me, and I am still trying to recover. Sometimes I feel like I have been recovering since March.
I don’t always allow myself room to remember that, and however trivial it may seem, I am still grieving the loss of a life I could have had, the players in said life, and a city that housed, clothed and fed me for close to ten years. But after what seemed like eons of trying to convince myself I was happy when I really wasn’t, the rush of excitement and contentment I felt after a change of pace and a change of scenery might have over-shadowed some of the less-than-pleasant experiences I was still trying to cope with lurking back in the New York. I quickly put all that unpleasantness on the back-burner to make room for new places to see and jobs to explore and people to meet, some of whom I am very lucky to now call friends. But still, lurking in the back of my mind and heart, those people and places and memories from my previous life lived, and would never let me forget about them. What I needed was a way to remember, every single day, that I was not done with my healing and no matter how many beautiful, black sand beaches I lost myself on or Guatemalan-muse cooking sessions I distracted myself with, they could not change the fact that I was still reeling. Those experiences couldn’t mask that this transition was not fixable by a quick re-direction but by serious, everyday contemplation, meditation and a whole lot of gentleness directed towards myself. I needed a talisman of sorts, something I could look at every single day and remember, “Hey babe, you may be having the time of your life here but you best remember all the s$*% you have to deal with in your heart.
This brings me to a little gift stuck in my Christmas stocking. It was a “Breakup Recovery Kit”. At first, opening this in front of all of my siblings and step-siblings and other collected relatives, I was angry and embarrassed. I thought, Thanks so much Santa! Now the whole world knows that I am a bloody mess! But later that night after everyone had left and out of the three of us that remained in the house, two were in bed by 8 o’clock, I opened up the little metal box and the first thing I pulled out was a yellow rubber bracelet, similar to the disgraced LiveStrong ones. I pulled it out and read the inscription – Heartbroken.
Now I realize there are some complications to wearing around a bright yellow rubber bracelet that says Heartbroken, the first being that many people will associate it with the now-fallen cyclist, but I think I can handle that. The second is that people might actually read it and ask questions, questions which I really don’t want to answer – not in English nor Spanish nor in gestures nor in facial expression. I could answer by bursting into tears and reaching for the nearest bottle of tequila, but that seems a bit much. Seeing as that this is really just a talisman for me and no one else, I wear it inside out, so that I am the only one to see it. Maybe in time, I will be able to not only wear it correctly, but will be able to shout it out from the rooftops that, Hey, yeah! I AM HEARTBROKEN!! But for right now I wear it so that the word is turned inward towards my skin, connecting with my veins that pump blood up to my heart, where the word in absorbed and once or twice a day I take a look at it and whisper, Yes, I am still heartbroken, and I take a minute to think about that. I ask myself questions like, You are? Still? Why? Don’t you think it’s time you were done with that? To which I respond back in a simple, almost eerily calm, No, I am not.
Today marks the sixth month anniversary of my departure from New York. On this day six months ago, I was writing about being all but terrified that I would end up back in New York City, back at my old job, back in my old life. Some days I still have fears about this, about being forced back into town with no money and little more direction than I had when I left in July. These fears sometimes take over, and i end up spending perfectly good days wallowing away in self-pity when I could be out in the world, actually doing something so that, if I do go back to New York and have to take up parts of that old life again, I will at least have a bucket-full of memories to take with me, and many more people in the world to share them with. If I end up back in New York, I do. There are far worse places to end up and, in my heart of hearts, I will never stop missing New York, so a visit could be fun. If I end up back there broke enough that I have to return to producing for a short time to make ends meet, then at least I want to spend that hard-earned money on having a fair bit of fun. But mostly, wherever I go, I want my heart to be healed and free by the time I go there, so for the foreseeable future, I am wearing this yellow rubber bracelet as a badge of honor – Heartbroken (and Healing).
And that brings me around to this soup, which has little to do with heartbreak and only a slight bit of relevance to healing, as in, healing my body from the weeks and weeks of heartbreak I have caused it by consuming butter, bacon, cream, See’s candy and countless Manhattans. It’s a creamed (not cream, creamed) soup with a pretty standard base on onions, carrots and celery mixed with white beans and lots of hearty greens, but then gets a little fancy with a drizzle of lemon olive oil and crunchy, flakey sea salt. I am calling it New Start Soup, because it’s what 2013 means to me – a new start for my body, my mind, and my heart. Happy New Year…may it be gentle on my heart.
New Start Soup
Active time: 15 minutes, Inactive time: 15 minutes; Serve 4.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 large garlic cloves, diced
1 15oz can white beans, like cannellini
6 cups greens of choice, roughly chopped (I used beet greens)
1/2 bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped dill
good quality olive oil, lemon flavored if you can find it
flakey, crunchy sea salt
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute another five minutes. Add white beans, bouillon, water, and salt and bring to boil. Turn down to a simmer and add greens; cook until greens are very wilted, about 10 minutes.
Turn off soup. Using an immersion blender puree soup in pot until completely creamed. Stir in zest, dill and pepper and return to heat to simmer for five more minutes.
Remove soup from heat and ladle into four bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt right before serving. Serve with lemon slices.