This new year 2022 is a new chance for love

Like thousands of Angelenos in that unforgettable March 2020, I found myself in an ominously quiet supermarket, maneuvering a shopping cart through a crowded dry goods aisle, and bewildered by a rapidly dwindling supply of pasta, rice and beans.

As I stood in front of the bulk containers, a fellow buyer and I thought about it.

“You think we should touch them?”

“Well, if we want what’s inside, we don’t have a choice,” he decided, digging a stainless steel scoop into the last of the cornmeal. “Only hope.”

“Right,” I nodded, filling a bag with my usual pistachio fix. I took a tiny pencil out of the ordinary box, wrote the PLU code on a tie and decided that maybe I should keep the pencil on this trip.

A few aisles down I grabbed a five-pound bag of organic spelled flour, a huge can of stewed tomatoes. I had no idea who I thought I was cooking for. My long-haul darling was three states away, and while our regular Southwest flight was faster than a Thursday night commute from Pasadena to Malibu, air travel suddenly seemed just as viable as interstellar transport. Also, my beau from the Mountain Time Zone was by far the better cook.

No matter how empty the fridge was or what time the hour, he always made dinner if we managed to be in the same time zone together, and I loved the sous-cheffing for his spinatomelets, arugula and radicchio salads, slow-cooked dals. A trip to the grocery store always seemed more like a date night than a chore to me, and the grocery shopping I did when I got back to LA felt like we were together, even when we were apart.

In fact, our first date was at a small deli in a state where neither of us lived. We’d met at a weekend conference after he sat cross-legged on a side table next to my chair, the only available seat in a crowded classroom. For the next hour and a half, all I saw of him was his boot, a suede-colored Frye.

They say timing is everything in love, but maybe location is too. After the panel was over we chatted, but not until the evening of the keynote when the space-time continuum confronted us and I asked him if he had managed to find a good place to eat. Half an hour later we were seated at a table working our way through a butternut squash and kale pizza.

There I learned that he lived in a ravine surrounded by mountains, his house accessible by a road that was alternately made of mud, dust, snow and ice. I’m no Einstein, but even I knew those dimensions wouldn’t exactly be lighthearted, especially for a lifelong Californian who didn’t see snow fall until she was 20.

I’ve read that space-time doesn’t evolve, it just exists, and maybe the same is true for love. In this case, moments expanded to fill the absence of distance. One of us got on a plane every few weeks; the other went to the airport. Until time screeched to a standstill – not just for us, but for everyone.

Not knowing what to expect, not wanting us to make each other sick, it was months before I traveled to his home in the canyon again, doubly masked.

At my long-delayed annual check-up, my doctor asked how I was doing living so far from my main stress during the isolating pandemic days.

“Oh, Doctor, I don’t know,” I said through my mask.

“Well, you’re not a teenager,” she scolded softly, keeping my emotional health in mind. “Don’t waste time.”

Which maybe all we have. I just wanted mine in the same spot. It was an unsolvable equation.

We spent the first Thanksgiving of the pandemic enjoying a leisurely holiday meal at his kitchen table, but as the virus worked its way through the Greek alphabet, it became clear that as much as it would have masked, vaccinated and amplified us. That’s not enough to ward off the odds of an insurmountable distance.

As you might imagine from a woman who kept a five-pound bag of organic spelled flour in her fridge well past its 2021 best-before date, I miss the early lockdown days of bread-making, the glorious sourdough loaves, the ones that came out of Dutch ovens popping out all over Instagram. Even though yeast was back on the shelf now, what was the point? It’s one thing to love someone, another to live a life. And since living in the same kitchen hadn’t worked out, I made toast.

But first I bought a toaster. Not just any toaster. One I’ve had a crush on since I first scrolled across my screen from home, introduced by a newly devised fairy zoom mother algorithm. With its cheery analog dials, peep window, and flashing orange lights, this model was downright adorable, the easy-bake oven I’ve never had. Unsurprisingly, the non-toy version was way over my budget and, less surprisingly, months behind schedule. Plus, I still had my compact two-slice toaster with me.

Almost two years later, when hopes of an Omicron winter were short-circuited, my heart wasn’t ticking so well.

But guess what was finally in stock?

Reader, I’ve lived eons without a television, microwave, or coffee maker. I also don’t own a dishwasher, pressure cooker or air fryer. But the moment this flirty toaster reappeared, I clicked buy now.

During the first week of December, unpacked and set out on my tiny kitchen counter like an anime stove, I toasted raw almonds, coconut flakes, thinly sliced ​​apples sprinkled with cardamom. I ordered miniature pans in which I baked Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and a two-egg frittata. I roasted kale for fries, chickpeas for crunch, artichoke hearts to feed my own.

I watched spellbound as the electric alchemy of heat turned inertia to gold, the soft ticking of minutes ringing the bright tinkle of alarm.

And then, another pandemic New Year’s countdown on the calendar, I found myself making a single, sublime piece of toast.

A friend gave me three avocados from her tree: “Two weeks,” she told me. Amid new messages on variants and changing holiday plans, I had almost forgotten they were bowl-ripened. But the slight yielding as I squeezed her skin told me the time had passed faster than I thought. And even as day rolled into day, made even more hazy by the rain, it would go on and time would do its work, and it was time not to waste the gift.

I took one of the avocados and sliced ​​it around the bulging center – out of habit, in a way you shouldn’t because nobody wants a cut in the ER right now. I scooped the tender green fruit onto the toast, frozen rye sourdough. I ground pink Himalayan salt, a squeeze of lemon left in a basket for passers-by by a neighbor. Cannabis seeds because I’m such a Californian. I ate the entire toast miracle straight off the cutting board and stood over the kitchen counter, which is perhaps a little more civilized than the sink.

And then I roasted another one because yes, the other half of the avocado was waiting, and why not a second round? To love – up now, wherever you are.

The Author is a California-born writer and the author of Death and Other Holidays. It is on marcivogel.com

LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the LA area, and we want to hear your real story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email [email protected] The submission guidelines can be found here. Past columns can be found here.

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