“The main question is, Are you actually gonna cook in this amazing kitchen?’
The answer came in turn as a question: “Do you want to eat?”
I had put this to Handsome Chef Boyfriend a few nights ago during one of our twice-daily phone chats, referring to the beautiful house where I have been dog- bunny- frog- fish- and plant-sitting, and in general looking after things since last Wednesday. A ballet school family asked me to fill in for a few days before the arrival of their other house sitter tomorrow. It was a gracious invitation to live in these lovely digs for a little while and enjoy the incredible property around the house. Kind of a like a vacation, they suggested. And so it has been.
HCB and I were discussing the logistics of his arrival and time with me for the weekend, which ended this morning. Of course we were going to cook in the kitchen. What was I thinking–Chinese takeout?
No, but what I was thinking: leaving the tiniest possible evidence of my tenure here. The stuff my parents instilled in me growing up. The Golden Rule. Do unto others…. No Risky Business on my watch (cue Bob Seger).
So far, so good. HCB and I had a rare kind of day yesterday, jammed with so much we had not a single idle moment, save some very early time at the kitchen island with our coffee and toast, quietly chatting, working a crossword, making plans.
There has been exactly no time to slow down since the end of the academic year, until now. Not for me, anyway. While the rest of the ballet school population had a brief sabbatical I was teaching ballet camp for a group of littles ages five to seven, pretty much all day, every day. I spent the small balance of those days working my second job, and the rest of the nighttime waking hours at home working my third, which gets fully underway in August.
Last week the pace slowed a bit. There is something about being completely removed from your own surroundings for a while that allows you to empty your head, to purge all the deleted files from the mental recycle bin, as it were. Being at home physically means a million distractions–the backlog of stuff that has been back burnered because there was no time, the pile of household chores, the unmown lawn, the correspondence and trappings of the day. At least this always seems the case, real or imagined. (All those things await my arrival home tomorrow and will bite me in the behind when I walk through the door.)
Yesterday was vacation through and through. HCB and I managed to squeeze in our usual summer Saturday fare (which almost always includes a visit to the farmers’ market for beautiful produce, and as many tag sales as we can stand), but once home we indulged in some of the fun this place has to offer: a swim in the spring-fed pond, paddle boarding, paddle boating, and the zip line.
As the people who live here warned, the zip line was not designed to handle a full-size grownup (which would definitely include HCB). So once you go, they explained, you’ve got to be committed to let go over the pond or risk running aground on the other side in an unfortunate way.
No way in the world could anybody convince me to do that. But once he had it in his head to go, there was no stopping HCB. I lost count of how many times he zipped (is that the correct verbiage? who knows?). I was asked to record this act for posterity, which the time-delayed Instagram app on my Droid made difficult. On something like the fifth run we each had a funny epiphany that the original request had actually been for a video record of the event. So there was another run. I would post the movie version here, except the whole thing is ninety degrees flipped on its left side, and I have no clue how to correct that. Plus it took me an eternity to upload it from the Droid to my laptop, where it immediately consumed the remaining memory. Plus there is ridiculous audio of me giggling at the end.
We had fun in the water, alternately warm and freezing cold, depending on shadows and sunlight and (we surmised) proximity to one of the feeder springs. It was my first time to swim in something besides a swimming pool, but familiar territory to HCB. We indulged in the hot tub for a while until we could stand the heat no more and came inside to start dinner, already pretty late. (Menu: pepper crusted pork tenderloin (reprised from last week because it was so wicked good), fresh corn on the cob and red potatoes, and farmers’ market salad; watermelon for dessert.)
While we were collapsed on the sofa with one of our flea market DVDs, each of us fighting sleep, we both agreed that this kind of exhaustion is so delicious–sun kissed, tired, generally euphoric. It did feel like a real vacation, we decided, if a bit fleeting.
I have told HCB in the past I feel like I can plug in and recharge when I see him each week. Maybe that is an unfair burden to bear, to serve as someone else’s battery charger. But quoting a friend who is gone, I think it is possible we are put here to help each other. I can live with that.
Oh, and we left the kitchen spotless.