As it happened, my friend stopped by unexpectedly to see how the couch looked in the kitchen. It looks very sweet, you know. I put a rough patchwork quilt over the tasteful oatmeal upholstery, so now it is covered in practical bits and pieces that are somehow entirely lovely together. “I’m in the best spot,” she said as she settled in. This couch is a hand me down from the estate of another friend, and now a warm, familiar place to continue the conversation.
I put out bowls of the dark, brothy zharkoye, and arranged the pumpernickel I bought for you on a plate with butter and cheddar and pears. I made tea, and drank enough white wine to find myself telling a story I had been keeping to myself so as not to worry this friend. I described the garbage disposal clogged with rice; the race to buy a mop and plunger at 10:00 pm on a Saturday night; the rusted out cast iron pipe leaking from water from both drains; the Monday Miracle of the plumber fixing it all. And by now, to my relief, we both thought the entire escapade was pretty funny.
I’ve been crying all week, and I’m wrung out. I was crying even this morning. You’ve never been more absent and missed than you are now – and yet, somehow, still here. It was a mitzvah that she came over, one of my Chicago girls – to eat dark brown bread and drink a little booze, and understand that nothing is sweeter than the tenderness of beef and onions, in a warm, bright kitchen, and someone to laugh with when the garbage disposal breaks.