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In Search of Salt

I’ve been silent. I hardly wrote in 2020 – what was there to say?! So much, and none of it very pretty. A pandemic, an explosion, a heartbreak. It was pretty… rotten. And yet, there was magic hiding in all the shit.

Because the pandemic restricted me from hiring a contractor, I learned how to renovate my house – painting, plumbing, sanding, staining, upcycling. Home Depot is the retail love I never knew I needed, and yes, you can fix anything if you watch enough YouTube videos.

Explosions – physical and emotional – are awful, painful, and often avoidable little beasts – but when they are inevitable, they help remind us of what is good, what is important, and what is worth fighting for.

I’ve found joys in small things – long walks with the pupper, Turkish TV shows that last for decades, and even more culinary creations in constraining circumstances.

I came to New York for a slice of “normal” and was instead fed an unexpected serving of all that is familiar: lockdown, restrictions, solitary days/weeks/months, and the iron-cheffing of my fridge – and my life. The literal WTF-am-I-gonna-do/eat/etc-today when it feels like it’s all the same.

I’ve zoomed myself into oblivion, but also both shared and seen people’s “real lives”, not their bullshit, work facade, 9-5, nothing-personal-ever-happens-here life, but the sweet and dirty stuff – kids and dogs jumping into the screen, living rooms with kooky art, piles of dishes in the sink. We’re still far apart, but in some ways we’re closer than ever.

And now I’m in Florida. I rented a car in NYC, packed it with wine, dog food, elastic waistband clothes, and drove as far south as I could, stopping anywhere-everywhere in search of sun, salt, and magic.

I often think of my favorite Dari word, namak, salt. It is also used to describe personalities – someone bi-namak is, literally, without salt, dull, bland, while being namaki is exciting, passionate, ALIVE. And Isek Dinesen’s “the cure for everything is salt – sweat, tears, or the sea”.

So here I am in SomewhereSortaSunny, seemingly on the Eat-part of the Eat, Pray, Love journey of self-discovery – except that mine is literally called Eat, Eat, Eat. Since I crossed the Mason-Dixon, my most repeated phrase is: “OF COURSE I want another biscuit!”

My New Year’s Eve is a perfect example. We – the fur-dude and I – had just gotten off a sunset cruise (adios, 2020!) and I was craving pizza. As I sat, enraptured by this amazing pepperoni pizza so perfectly crispy and as good as anything I’d find in NYC, my romance was interrupted…

Voice from the abyss: No way! You’ve gotta be kidding me!

Me: Looking around, perplexed. Sees Dude with arms crossed standing in front of me.

Dude: Every time I see you, you’re EATING!

Me: ummm?!

Dude: You were on the beach a few hours ago… eating.

Me: (He can’t possibly be talking about me?!)

Me: What was I eating?!

Dude: Ice cream!

Me: (Yup. That was me.)

Me: Getting my sneaky eating on in 2020 so I can go clean next year!

Dude: See you at the next meal!

I am now known in these parts FOR MY APPETITE.

I’ve spent the last year operating by my LMO principle – the Least Miserable Option. I also call this the just-eat-the-goddamn-cookie-girlfriend rule. I will steal whatever joy I find and devour it. No, nothing was “optimal” in 2020, and I would not have chosen most of it.

And 2021 isn’t “normal” yet. I woke up on January 1 and it all felt the same – we didn’t rewind to 2019 and there was no booming voice telling us that we’ve learned our lesson now and can now get back to the business of living – a little wiser and a little kinder, perhaps.

None of that. But in every moment, there was always an LMO – and that’s the road I’m on.

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