Can we ever really just walk into a room, or? I think that we forget sometimes to be receptive. I wonder what it must be like to arrive someplace and observe what arises. And sit with it. Instead, we greet it with all the things we carried along. No wonder things blow up in our faces.
I had a visitor last week. I was pounding Shirley Temples while the rest of us alcohol-ed. We meandered in the night to a dive.
I keep thinking about this poem I wrote a few months ago in which I compared a thing in my chest to an insect stuck in a web. Confined to what has trapped it. The web shakes.
But really, there have been two giant glass slides housing a specimen for microscopic evaluation, and it was filed in the space between my sternum and the back of my ribs, on diagonal. My chest has been a filing cabinet for this thing that was flattened for later examination, and that night in a dive bar, it was called upon for evaluation.
I was with my best friend and her best friend who became my friend because he asked why I wasn’t drinking once and I told him I was a professional soul crusher and I have to keep my wits about me. (really one reason is because I have severe Crohn’s Disease, but soul crushing sounds cooler)
We saw a girl I met once, and she remembered, too. We saw me tiptoeing down the street wearing two spring jackets. We saw someone I get awkward around. And suddenly, we saw a familiar-looking face. A twin. One that may as well have died. A ghost. I pushed my best friend’s best friend out of the booth and the bathroom was too full to examine what it was that spoke, and so I returned and that face was just feet away and finally I asked if we could leave and now I know what it would be like if I ever saw a face like that again because I slept three hours in spite of exhaustion but at least when I needed it we left and then to my left I hear,
“Why aren’t you asleep, Kelsey Cooke?”
from a serendipitous friend who also should have and shouldn’t have been where he was right then, who missed every bus in the night, who I met years and years ago in a different space and time, and who came here with me originally and we have grown and thank goodness he was there right then because are all accidents trying to be fortunate and is it better now because I think it is because there are people and I have a life I have built and reclaimed and it is mine
It felt like, that night, a giant hand lifted the slides from where they were housed. The next day, I spoke about it with my serendipitous friend and another fortuitous friend I have chanced to meet in the last year. I posed the question of what should be filed in its place, and we agreed that maybe I am the woman sliced in half in a magic show who was whole all along but also maybe I don’t need to think about it as we ate pie in the outside air that felt cold and warm all at once beneath colorful lights strung in this neighborhood I know but cannot always find and then quietly I realized: I have community. I have life. Interconnectedness. Even in small ways on nights when ghosts visit. I have never had this before. It is here. I belong. There were slides. Without, there is no void.
There is the roughhousing of espresso beans in dark chocolate. Suspended in chocolate chip cookie dough that once flirted with some espresso powder and princess emulsion. Each round of dough is sprinkled with sea salt before the heat of the oven transforms its contour into a flat round. One by one, every cookie is a small world of flavor. It makes me wonder what shape we thought the earth was before we discovered you don’t just drop off its edge when you reach the horizon. Was it square, before everything and nothing changed? Or did we think it a disc, ridged with mountains made of chocolate covered espresso beans and deep crevices of semisweet chocolate and teeny, tiny salt mines.
Cue the clinking of cookies: To (re)Discovery!
One Year: Cilantro Lime Edamame Succotash
Two Years: Lemon Ricotta Spaghetti with Smashed Peas
Three Years: Cocoa Brownies, Revisited
Four Years: The Best Marshmallow Crispy Treats You Will Ever Encounter
Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes a dozen cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp espresso powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1/4 tsp princess emulsion
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chocolate-covered espresso beans, chopped
sea salt, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and molasses. Beat in princess emulsion. Beat in egg. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Beat in flour mixture in halves. Stir in chocolate chips and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Scoop into heaping tablespoonfuls, rolling into each into a ball with hands. Space cookies two inches apart on baking sheet, as they will spread. Sprinkle each with sea salt. Bake each batch for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the edges are golden brown and the middles are slightly underdone. Let cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Cookies should be kept in an airtight container, and will last up to three days.