In what may be the most surprising news of what bodes well to be a pretty momentous news day, I’m not hungry.
I’m not hungry because I am wracked by nervous anxiety that manifests itself in random chatter, a tendency to leave my keys, wallet, phone and children strewn around town, and a stomach that has tied itself into a tight knot that may or may not come undone sometime in the next 24 hours or ensuing decade.
I was awake before six, and my busy mind was even more determined than the dog to disobey my stern injunctions to “go back to bed.” So dawn found me with the ingredients of the crisper drawer spread out around me and a knife in my hand. I made soup. I am not a woman to pray, and I’ve never been able to sit still for meditation, but I am almost always soothed by the rhythmic rock of a knife through a carrot or the swift slicing of a onion.
I have spent almost thirty years not voting because I simply could not bear to endorse a candidate I didn’t believe in, or voting with the taste of ash in my mouth, the taste of shame and regret that I voted only against and not for, voted with the aim of turning things from tragic to merely terrible. But sometime this summer, it came to me that I might indeed be voting for, that perhaps, this time, I would turn in a ballot because and not in spite of. And let me tell you, hope hurts.
Soup is so elemental, so unifying. We all eat soup. It warms; it nourishes. Despite 72 degree temperatures, I need to be warmed today. I would not presume a recipe for today’s soup, which may not be very good. In my distraction I kept forgetting both the thyme and the time and it was made at an oddly staccato pace. But as I made it, I felt gratitude for the plain beauty of the turnips in my hands and for the chance to be standing in my sunlit kitchen on a morning when things might start, finally, to get a little better.
When I was waiting for my son to be born, my first wish for him, always, was that he would have a fearless heart. That he would all his life be open to the promise, the pain, the possibility of this rich and complicated world. I did not want to care about this election; confirmed pessimism carries very little risk. But if I want my son to grow up with that great courage, perhaps I have to be a little brave myself.
I did my time in line today, about eighty-five minutes of it. In that time, I did not hear any irritation, grumbling or complaint. I can’t remember when I could last say that after an hour and half in a public place.
It is heart-breakingly beautiful in south-eastern Michigan today. The light is golden, and illuminates the last of the fall foilage. It burns bright and gentle at the same time, with an extraordinary clarity of color. This morning, watching small birds in the leaves and red squirrels chase around the garden, each moment was marked with that peculiar poignency you feel when you know something is ending and you’re still waiting for something else to begin. I hope the weather is the only thing that breaks my heart today. But perhaps there’s a different kind of victory in allowing the possibility of pain.
And those who reside in the 4810* zip codes might be pleased to know that in honor of the election, fries have returned to the Jefferson Market. Now that’s a sign of hope. Perhaps they’ll go well with soup.