I woke up early every morning to read my science textbook and cook breakfast burritos before my dad left for work. I wrote essays in front of the fireplace after I had finished shoveling snow off our driveway. I discussed Dostoevsky’s novels with my mom and sister while we prepared spaghetti for dinner, growing so absorbed in the conversation that I accidentally burnt the tomatoes. From kindergarten through senior year of high school, my education took place completely within my own house, and I am a proud graduate of the Lisko Home School. Continue reading
My mother is not an easy person to pin down. Describing her is like describing the sky; I know her many sides too well to prioritize one attribute over the other. I want to describe her as serious, but the image of her that is fresh in my mind is of her on my brother’s wedding day, and she looks brilliant and radiant in flowing sea foam fabric over a brilliant skirt full of pinks and yellows and browns. I want to describe her as strict, but she has a habit of following her pleasures when they arrive. She will take trips to New York to visit her son, or pick up a trinket at an artist’s market that strikes her fancy. She fills her life with beautiful things in whatever ways she can. Continue reading
I was fourteen when I decided to become a vegetarian. Much to my parents’ dismay, this meant that they would have to cook different meals for me. After months of meat substitute products and “come on, chicken broth isn’t really chicken,” my dad started the tradition of Gilmer beans. I still remember the aroma of sautéing onions on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and the sound of sizzling oil that let me know my dad would be spending the entire day making food for the week.
As a kid, I didn’t always appreciate my dad’s efforts to make sure that we all had good food to eat. I would walk into the kitchen, worried about my friends, love life, or academic future. When I voiced my worries, my dad’s response was always something along the lines of, “Does this need more salt?” This is not to say that he didn’t care about the woes of high school drama, but on these Sundays, he was completely engrossed in making this dish, and making it perfect. He had an intuitive sense of measurement, and I admired the way he would throw handfuls of spices into the pot, never questioning his decisions. When my friends came over, wafts of cumin and garlic ushered them through the door, inviting them to sit down and stay a while. Even on Saturdays when I abandoned the kitchen, absconding with the scent of legumes on my jacket, my friend Abi would sniff the air around us and ask, “What smells so good?” Continue reading