Life Chooses for Us
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The kitchen was the warmest room in the house, and that’s pretty much where I spent the evening, putting together a pan of lasagna and baking up some chocolate cherry cake during the show. Just as Garrison signed off and I slipped in a CD of instrumental music (I favor cello and piano), the phone rang. It was Rosemary, my dear friend from Ohio, a woman I met at a writing retreat in Connecticut over a decade ago. She’s one of those people you meet and you love in one flashing moment.
Rosemary and I spent a week together going to workshops and readings during the days, and getting together in our rooms with a few other writers with whom we bonded and reading our work to each other in the evenings. Rosemary is a good decade older than I, regular smoker of cigarettes, a bit on the forward side when it comes to any subject. If something needed sayin’, she said it. Her hair is short, reddish and windblown; she always looked as if she’s just arrived from a hike up and down a mountain. We talked that week away, and walked, and laughed and shared and ate our meals together. When I stood at the local coffee shop to read, for the first time, my work, there she was in the front row. Beaming.
Ran across a quote recently that brought Rosemary to mind. Something a brilliant man named David Whyte wrote, in an essay about friendship: The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor the other: the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.
Rosemary is not someone I would have picked out of a crowd as someone who would become a friend for life. But. We often do not choose; life chooses for us, and life chose Rosemary and me, and I am grateful. I hear from her every six months or so, and receive a card or two from her each year. We haven’t seen each other since that week, and I don’t know that we will meet again. Same with the many people I love out there, scattered over the planet, the people I’ve encountered along the way with whom friendship came hard and fast, and whose lives matter to me, whom I watch — from afar — living their own ordinary, complicated, beautiful lives.
Here I am, today, in my chair by the window, tired from shoveling, and from a long goodbye to our daughter who took off for college, and second semester this morning. A little worn out from the holiday still, and helping our son sort through his things for our trip on Sunday, when I will drop him off. I got the laundry done, and piles of everything for taxes laid out on my desk, and I’m thinking chicken fajitas for dinner. I have a slight headache, first one in a while, and have been giving good thought to what I might do next fall once our youngest drives off and there is some real quiet.
All those friends in other places, and even some nearby, don’t and may not ever know these things, the details of my days. But they know who I am, and how I think, and what I care about. This is something bigger than the sky to me, and real, and I think David Whyte hit the nail on the head when he wrote that how we witness each others’ lives is a privilege, and it is. I’m thinking about Rosemary right this moment, as I often do. I can hear her laugh, and it’s a fine thing to know out there, somewhere, she is.
I love spicy food, especially when it’s bitterly cold outside and we can sit around after dinner and play a few boards games and have ice cream and there’s nowhere else we have to be.
Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
¼ cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounce cream cheese
1 cup buffalo wing sauce
Hot pepper sauce (amount based on your own preference)
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
½ cup ranch dressing
8 ounce package of shredded mozzarella cheese
Lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
In a medium pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the onions and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and add to the mixture. Stir well until completely melted then pour in the buffalo sauce and a few dashes of hot pepper sauce to taste.
Spoon a small amount of the buffalo and cream cheese sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and spread it around to cover the bottom of the dish. Stir the chicken into the sauce in the pot. Place one layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the chicken mixture over the noodles then drizzle with half of the ranch dressing. Add another layer of noodles and then the remaining chicken and ranch dressing. Place a final layer of lasagna noodles and then spread the cheese over the top.
Bake uncovered at 350 for about 25 minutes. Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing and carrot and celery sticks.