Where I Am Is Where I Want To Be

Archived | April 15, 2016 | By

Went to the show Saturday in New York City and it was not bad. MY gosh, it was something. NY was something. People are asking what shows I saw and where I shopped and what I visited, and I have to say I pretty much just WAS in New York. There really wasn’t much time and I wanted more than anything to simply take it all in and that’s exactly what I did. A lot of walking, and a couple trips on the subway. Pizza by the slice. People brushing me, smiling, opening doors. Flowers. A patty melt with fries. Salmon at an Irish pub and the view from my hotel room of several thousand windows (with a naked man in one). A visit to rehearsal for the show, and dinner with a dear old friend who works at Rockefeller Center. Thai food. Lunch with one of the kid’s friends who is enrolled in acting school. Times Square again and again. The show, in all its nostalgia and glory, with Ellen and Jim, friends I’d yet to meet and met and now we know each other. A bit too much wine after, and more walking on Sunday morning after watching my favorite CBS News Sunday Morning show and pleasant conversations and Italian food and the rooftop gardens and missing Mr. S and no pie, but the most amazing banana pudding from the Magnolia Bakery. And the wonderful flight home.

I have to say I think I would have loved a life in NY. I’m 48 now, and my roots here go deep, and to haul off and head out are not on my list. Though I do wonder, and the way I make a kind of peace with things is to imagine myself living other lives in alternate universes. There’s the me who never married or had children, who went to Hollins in Roanoke and became a writer and lives in a lovely apartment overlooking the Potomac River writing book after book. There’s the me who married a fisherman in Alaska, and I live there in a cabin near the Spit in Homer and bake bread for the café and write a column for the local paper and grow vegetables and teach at the local school. And the me who owns a ranch in Wyoming with herds of cattle and some horses and a lot of cowboy boots and a huge kitchen where I feed the people working on the ranch and a room with a pottery wheel where I make bowls and plates and urns. And the me who runs a bookstore/café on a river somewhere, with a wall of books and homemade soup and a different fresh pastry every day and book groups and readings and such. And the me who lives in Cooder Pedy in a house beneath the ground, mining opals and growing herbs in little pots and hosting outside bonfire parties where we fry meat on sticks in the fire and play guitar under the stars.

And yes, the New York me, who has a lovely five-story apartment and a tiny back yard with a fence made of big sticks and a hundred candles scattered round. My fridge is much smaller and I take walks in Central Park and climb winding stairs to my rooftop garden and take a class where I throw pizza dough up into the air and take the subway to my office where I edit books and talk with writers and leave early on Thursdays to play cello with a string group.

I imagine one of those alternate-universe me’s wonders about a life in Minnesota, and rightly so. This is the one I choose, a home among lakes and rhubarb and people who drink coffee. A life of church potlucks and parades often enough and road trips through prairies and forests. A life of walks along rivers and pontoons and fish fries and cabin visits. Baking coffee cake and cooking roast beef, the State Fair and autumn and blizzards and wind. I could go on for pages about why I choose this life, but I won’t. I chose it, it’s mine, and all the others are lovely to think about now and then, but when it comes down to it, where I am is where I want to be and that, my friends, is my wish for you.

Here’s a fresh and fruity delight for a spring get-together, a church potluck or a family reunion. Serve it up with ice cream if the day is warm, and have the recipe handy. Someone will surely ask.

Peach Crumble Dessert

6 cups sliced peeled ripe peaches
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 T flour
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp grated lemon peel
½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
Vanilla ice cream, optional but highly recommended

Place peaches in a greased shallow 2½-qt. baking dish. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, peel and cinnamon; sprinkle over the peaches.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg, and stir in egg until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the peaches. Pour butter evenly over topping.

Bake 35-40 minutes at 375.
Makes 10-12 servings.