I woke up on an anniversary of something recently to find the Minnesota sky streaked with purples, pinks, and reds. The watercolor was broken by cracks of pitch black, leafless branches stretching into the air. I thought for a moment about how the backdrop of it all-the colorfully rising sun-reminded me a bit of the skies I saw when I lived in Florida. The places we have been. The places we go.
On this particular day, I woke up to text messages I hadn’t responded to. They arrived at appropriate times, and they betrayed me. I had gone to bed at 8pm that night; I remember my eyelids fluttering like the quick, little wings of an insect in flight. The last thing I saw before sleep was Anthony Bourdain looking hungover in São Paolo.
I woke up knowing that it was going to be a long 36 hours. Perhaps not as long as last week was. Last week was a long week, in which I stayed up panicking one night. In which I stood with a bunch of other people on an interstate in protest. In which I broke up a fight between two men. In which I walked in on too many people in the bathroom. In which iCloud found some surprising things I hadn’t seen in a while (and, quite honestly, had not planned to see). In which I handled the surprising things iCloud reintroduced me to with my swiftest, “Bye Felicia” yet. What a weird and kind of terrible week.
It reminded me of this one time in which a friend of mine asked me to talk about whatever I felt I needed to. When I responded that it wouldn’t be pleasant, he told me that didn’t matter. It can be valuable to learn how to sit with the uncomfortable. Which is to say: I talked a lot. He didn’t change. That, right there. That changed me.
Admittedly, not all change is good. I think we often forget the power we have to fundamentally impact all that is around us, even in small ways. In ways that just require sitting next to someone while they say something that is difficult for them to say. I know that some of us are hesitant to adapt, because it requires vulnerability; we forget, at times, that change can be threatening because it is real. There are repercussions. Always remember that it is what we do with what is (and isn’t) given in times of change that indicates our essence all along. We learn what we are made of. Fundamentally, though, we are still ourselves.
Like, for example, when tahini lands itself in a classic recipe. With sea salt, of course. Incoming ingredients twist and bend through the inner workings of my existence, and the output: a chocolate chip cookie with a crisp, bendy exterior; a tender interior; a bitter bite of sesame; a dark ooze of chocolate; a sweet contrast of sea salt. These cookies are an extension of the last week of my life, in which I received a lot of contrasting, conflicted life ingredients, and I had to figure out what to do with them. Elections, iCloud, weirdness, tahini, chocolate.
I know there are individuals who are free to identify any which way, and that that can mean they identify in a way that is different from my own. I do have one request: let’s all try to do something about the call for change we feel (and please let it be in honor of a greater, more inclusive good). If I may offer some sage advice: iCloud likely won’t be very helpful.
Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup tahini
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp molasses
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup high quality semisweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and tahini until combined. Add sugar and molasses, beating until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and egg yolks one at a time, followed by vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in halves. Stir in chocolate chips until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the dough out in heaping tablespoonfuls, rolling each into a ball with your hands. Leave about two inches of space between each ball of dough on the baking sheet. Before baking, sprinkle the cookies with sea salt (major important step = do not leave this out!). Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer immediately to a cooling rack. Repeat for the remaining dough. Cookies will last up to three days if kept in an airtight container.