What Adrian and I Ate Where
French crullers on the Brooklyn Bridge. We had taken my brother to Chinatown to catch his bus back to Baltimore and I was on the brink of something-missing-something so we decided to walk back to Pratt instead of taking the train. We talked about the writing program and our bi-coastal families with all the familiar roles--robbery, congenial fathers, drug addiction we could always understand but never possess. Apple cider donuts while we looked over hydroponic lettuces and dyed wool in the Union Square farmer's market. Gin martinis with lemon zest while Sweeney slept in the next room. A lobster roll in Red Hook, Brooklyn, not Red Hook, New York, with a view of the Statue of Liberty the tour buses never get. Onions baked in foil with goat cheese.
One summer she and Robert were in Oregon on a farm when Noah was living in his tent near Eugene, so I flew out and we all slept in the farm house for a week. When Noah had to leave again to go back to work, I started to cry and Adrian and I walked to get ice cream cones. That night we watched Twin Peaks and I was afraid to go to sleep, with all of open Oregon outside of the window. Green-bean casserole in New York when Sam and I were breaking up. Avocado smashed on melba toast with cumin while she read my tarot cards. Oatmeal with fried eggs on top in the Pratt dorm kitchens. Oh, I am the king of hot cereal! her boss, Rhadames, had told her when she asked for a good oats recipe working one afternoon at the natural-foods store. Once I moved back to Baltimore, I would write to her whenever I had a new oatmeal recipe or a new flame--try this with pumpkin, Adrian I think I'm in love again, try it with blackstrap molasses if you're feeling down, salt the oats but add blueberries to cook just a little at the end.
The night she put a hot pan of chicken straight into a wet sink from the oven and the glass shattered and so we had beer for dinner instead. We were arguing with Sweeney about Africa and Walter Benjamin and writing that lasts. Americanos at the Cafe Pick-Me-Up on the first night I felt I was starting to understand New York. We had already stayed at one coffee shop until it closed that night, we were in St. Mark's and had no intention yet of getting home. Vegan carrot cake our professor drunkenly insisted on buying for us at an end-of-term reading. Frittatas and baked apples and creole-seasoned chickpeas at potlucks in all kinds of cities.
A five-course raw-foods meal in New York when she got engaged--we both got dressed up in her clothes in front of her fiancee, who stayed home to eat fried chicken and drink juice out of the carton. The kind of meal that makes you say things you didn't even know you thought, things that you thought all along. You're the most beautiful woman in the world was one that came out just as I meant it, raw butternut squash soup with sage cream, a white wine from somewhere in Argentina. Our ultimate food date on the heels of her setting an ultimate kind of date with Sweeney: pink cheeks with the wine and the January weather and above all feeling fancy in a way not many people can, and no one can very often. A meal that clocked in at three hours but felt like it'd been incubating for four years.
Or meals that never counted as meals: Almond biscotti eaten on a hill in Fort Greene park while we wondered what in our lives could possibly stay together, and what was coming apart at its darling seams. Leftover salmon cakes. Bodega coffee that Adrian swore the clerk flavored perfectly, when what she really meant was very milky and very sweet. Cannoli that we made with my father in his old kitchen listening to Judy Collins, eaten later in the back of a bus back to New York. With Genoa salami, fontinella, olives cured in oil till they wrinkle, focaccia with dried tomatoes and rosemary baked into its face. We ate while the east coast (which could have been the world) was rushing by.