04 November 2013

l is for lunch

Recently, I've been reading books that either explicitly or implicitly remind me to slow down and appreciate the moment where I find myself.

From MFK Fisher, I've been sampling The Art of Eating, which is a book of essays on the joy of food. If there is anything to make you savor a moment, it is an essay on rich meals shared with a wealth of friends. Reading this book, you can't help but plan a dinner party in your head, one that hopefully comes off like something out of a Katharine Hepburn film.

For me, it doesn't hurt that MFK {should I start referring to myself as KA?} lived in Aix-en-Provence for a while and wrote a book about that little town where I lived, too, for a bit. Map of Another Town: When I read that for the first time, I was very much convinced that I was back in Aix, so when I looked up from the page and saw just the normal street outside my normal suburban apartment, I felt let down. Reading about MFK sitting in a cafe on the Cours Mirabeau felt like reading a much more literary version of my own journal.

In one essay in The Art of Eating (in this series called "An Alphabet for Gourmets"}, MFK writes, "A is for dining alone, and so am I, if a choice must be made between most people I know and myself. This misanthropic attitude is one I am not proud of, but it is firmly there, based on my increasing conviction that sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly."

And that is firmly what I believe. She wrote out my thoughts long before I was alive to have them, and here I am, nodding along with her through the rest of her essay. Is is good to take pleasure in the small moment of eating alone; MFK and I know this.

Take right now for instance. It is lunchtime at work, and I'm surrounded by the din of other people's conversations. They are discussing the Bears game; I don't have much to add beyond an awareness that they are playing tonight.

Or they are talking about how much Halloween candy they still have at home and should they bring it in? {No, by the way, is the answer to that. We have enough here from everyone else who thought of that idea first.}

These people around me are talking about any number of things, and I get to wrap myself up in their dull roar, their hum of connection. It is all to me nothing but so much background noise, and I sit here alone.

Oh, don't feel sorry for me. I'm looking out the window at this November drizzle and thinking of Normandy. This rain is a Normandy rain, a kind of rain I got to know quite well when I lived there. It is gentle and persistent, but here today, it is warmer than a typical rainy day there—at least in my memory. But it's quiet and beautiful, and I walked to the train station this morning sans umbrella—in honor of those Normans who see little need for an umbrella on a day like this, a day when it's barely but constantly raining.

Eating alone, I can let my mind wander, and that is why I don't want you to feel sorry for me: because in these moments at lunch, I don't have to think of anything particular or do anything productive. I can just be here, at a slowed-down pace, taking in where I am.

Just like MFK.

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