It was a grey day in Brooklyn, so we stayed indoors all day long. Woke to R. cooking, and fell into the rhythm of being her assistant again, chopping, grating, stirring, washing dishes. It is such a pleasure. There were five of us girls in the house: R. (from Nigeria), D. (her roommate from Colorado), M. (from Lesotho), C. (from Zambia), and me (from various points in between R. and D). At one point, M. said, “R., you are my ideal. I want to be you,” and I thought, “me too. I always have.” She’s such a wonder. She cooks gourmet, she keeps a spotless house, she is a successful ivy league graduate, she reads eclectic and beautiful books, she hosts a ladies bible study, she sews, she does yoga, she takes photographs, she is a practicing architect, she speaks fluent French, she sings, she has the gift of hospitality that makes everyone perfectly comfortable and makes everyone want to pitch in and help. When we were in high school, she completed several novels. She’s one of the classiest yet still down-to-earth people I know. Being with her reminds me of everything that I love and everything that I aspire to be. This is my dear R. I sorely miss living in Brooklyn, living in New York, but most specifically living with her.
It was a perfect day. R. cooked. M. made curried squash. We ate a smooth carrot soup sprinkled with roasted almond, pounded turkey stuffed with water chestnuts and cranberries, curried squash, leek casserole, fresh cranberry sauce. Lemon tart. Hot chocolate melted from semisweet chocolate squares and mixed with hot milk. Wine. Potfuls of tea with fresh ginger grated inside. We laughed. Gossiped about old friends and church. Moaned about men. Took naps scattered about the apartment like cats. Washed dishes. Took turns fanning the spastic fire alarm that goes off when you make a piece of toast or open the oven. Lit candles. Listened to Erykah Badou, Jem, Gregorian chants, and the soundtrack to Monsoon Wedding. Sat around playing word games, which involved timers, and yelling, and guessing eachother’s minds. Played scrabble till midnight. And woke at 4:30am to a drunken brawl on the street outside the windows.
What a delightful houseful of women. I miss it. I miss that life. That camaraderie.
On Friday, we lazed about the house with waffles and tea. Then walked to the Brooklyn Museum to see the Annie Lebowitz show and the amazing Walter Ford show “Tigers of Wrath,” watercolours strongly influenced by Audubon paintings, yet subtly overlaid with excerpts lifted from other texts and handwritten onto the paintings like Audubon’s field notes—Microsoft statistics, journals entries from colonial officials, tourist guidebooks. Behind the huge paintings of animals are often significant backgrounds—slaves being rounded onto a ship behind a giant ostrich, a mob with torches in the snow behind a great panther; or animals taking on characteristics of humans: monkeys taking on the identity of their colonial owners, a Brahman cow and a leopard in the act of copulation. A striking show, which you could spend all day pouring over (the hour we spent before feeling exhausted didn’t really do it justice.) The paintings are so intertextual that they could be read simultaneously as paintings and as postmodern poetry.
After the museum we ventured to Daffys and DSW at Atlantic Avenue (resisting Manhattan); shopping was insane, of course; I was proud of myself for only buying sensible things that I actually needed, like a cardigan and shoes for next summer. After the rest of the girls left, R. and I played another game of scrabble till 2am and laughed when a garbage truck blared a horn through surprisingly heavy traffic at 1am. Only in Brooklyn…
Today, I flew away back to this Midwestern town, shared a taxi home, swept and Murphys oiled the floors and the bathroom before I lit a candle to study. I am horribly behind on multiple papers and projects, but I feel renewed. I am SO glad I went. It’s good to be reminded of such simple things that make me happy.