A week or so ago John and I spent a stupid amount of the late afternoon/early evening arguing. I say stupid because merely a week later I can’t even remember what we argued about and because we managed to drag the disagreement out for hours, settling into quiet or other conversation for periods only to revive the spat repeatedly. We just needed to argue, I think, as people who live together and make major life decisions together and see each other day in and day out inevitably need to do from time to time. When all was said and done and M was in bed, we walked into the kitchen together and, for the first time in a loooooooong time, cooked together. We didn’t make anything fancy, but what we ate we made side by side, coming together on a plate after a day of disparateness.
It reminded me of the days before M. Pregnant for the better part of the last school year, every Saturday John and I ventured into the kitchen together. With “This American Life” on the radio, we silently spent an hour shuffling about the kitchen, chopping and sauteing and kneading and slicing. Sometimes we prepared something to structure the coming week’s meals around. Sometimes we made ourselves something laborious and decadent for dinner that night. Every week, though, we spent Saturdays in the kitchen together. Having met in a restaurant, cooking together was a sort of post to build around, a space to talk in or to silently occupy together. It was familiar and it was ours.
It is familiar. It is ours. And as the dust continues to settle around our foray into parenthood, I hope we find ourselves, stepping around each other and sliding ingredients from one’s cutting board into the other’s pot, more and more often.
Janet here: As a young feminist, I vowed I would teach my sons to do their own laundry, clean a bathroom, sew, iron and cook. No sons of mine I vowed, not unlike Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, would think of this as woman’s work. Now, as the mother of a 22-(almost 23-)year-old and 18-year-old, I am a little chagrined to report I am two for five. My sons have done their own laundry since they were 10 (each of my children received a laundry basket and a lesson in how to do laundry as part of their 10th birthday present) and they can clean a bathroom, but the others remain elusive. While they have been taught how to sew and iron, they generally refuse — but Mom you can do it so much faster! — and the cooking lessons, well, those fell by the wayside.
So I was shocked last week when G, the college grad, asked me if I wanted him to cook dinner. No one else was home and I feel fairly certain he thought I’d say no, but I jumped at the offer. And I stay committed even after I learned that basically we were going to have chicken nachos for dinner, a meal that he described as his “Mexican dinner specialty” but was absolutely nachos, as this picture will illustrate.
The meal began with G making me a gin and tonic, which was also a first. Then, as I relaxed in the family room, he got busy in the kitchen, which basically meant cutting up the chicken into strips and looking for “the hottest spices in the cupboard” to create, as he put it, “a history mystery mixture of all the hot red stuff.” From there he grated some cheese, threw the whole mixture onto a plate with some tortilla chips, and plopped it in the oven for about 10 minutes. He proudly proclaimed dinner ready, and we sat down to eat. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a tastier plate of nachos.