The Morning After:
One thing we know is the slam of bodies, an unassuming basement in an unreasonably large house on Saturday night. No heat except the damp smoldering of a crowd, an unfurnished bathroom, a fire pit seemingly left to tend itself outside. Culls of smokers and music-makers, nostrils being filled with the black dust kicked up by a crowd alternating--depending on the band--between rocking on their neglected heels, and full-on slamming. A duo rapping. A short man with a guitar that he plays with a drumstick and the high, clear voice of an adolescent shepherd calling out to any living creature on the mountain.
Or maybe we've forgotten. Have grown accustomed to our music on a stage, our parents out of the picture, surprised to find that upstairs the 11 o'clock news is playing and the homeowner is more than willing to give you a much-needed glass of water. And if the night ends abruptly with the ugly vibe of a man yelling in presumed agony at his ex-girlfriend while she tries to play her guitar, help rush him out the door, get him into the car, tell him there's a beast in all of us. It's all the more reason to come home and sit in solidarity watching Seinfeld quietly in a group. It is much like surviving a collapse in the mines.
So try this: Waking with a head like a lighthouse trying to burst through a seemingly unending fog, thoroughly permeated with the smell of campfire, the recollection of songs you feel grateful to have heard, the late-night goodbye to someone who rewrote the course of your evening by grabbing your hand when their friends were leaving and so they had to walk away from you. Whose palm is this? you thought, that it can still inspire such heat in me?
To all those ends and more, mince one clove of garlic. Tear the last of the kale into bite-sized pieces and rinse them in the sink while your roommate tells you the only thing that will make him feel better about doing dishes with a hangover is "if I start to hear the sizzle of breakfast." Finely cube a sweet potato, which at least one man you trust gave to his son as a cure for madness, in hopes that what grows in the ground will keep the eater close to it. Let the garlic and sweet potatoes cook in the pan in too much olive oil, salt, pepper, curry powder, before adding the kale and letting the whole thing wilt under an all-purpose lid for a few moments. Fire up the burner next to it, and fry an egg silkily, slowly, before dumping everything in a clay bowl that gives new feeling to anything contained within.
Cover it, if you're like me, in hot sauce, and eat it slowly, over a book that's so familiar that it's less like reading and more like visiting a companion with whom you've kept touch over the years in spite of the sparse conversation between you. Don't rush your stomach or evade the spiciness of the food or worry about squandering your day. It will be waiting for you when you've cleared the last of the plates suspended above your head.