December 12, 2018

to make french onion soup

On Sunday, which was the twelfth anniversary of our meeting, P.J. made French onion soup for supper.

The prep work was meticulous, the slicing of many onions and the measuring of sherry and white wine and beef stock.

On a chilly, windy Sunday twelve Decembers ago, we moved heaven and earth to meet at Atlanta Bread Company, long since out of business, during early breakfast hours.  There was babysitting to arrange, a work schedule to bend, sleepless nights for both and long drives to the restaurant.  We lived almost three hours apart.

There we talked for hours, first in armchairs by the fire, then in a booth.  We exchanged our favorite Far Side cartoons, anecdotes, personal histories, opinions, books, quotes.  We felt the affinity between us, drawn, pulled, matched.  We found a richness in each other that we had each longed to hold, appetites for true fulfillment suddenly insatiable by anything less than the other.  A kick in the chest.  A gasp.  An awakening.

A stick of butter melted in the Dutch oven, and the onions were tossed and coated and began the process of cooking, white to translucent, translucent to light brown, light brown to dark with caramel.  It required stirring, constant stirring, a dedication to the process, an unwillingness to settle until the rich dark was brought out.  It required detail, a bay leaf, salt.

There is a joke widely known:  Q: What does a lesbian bring on the second date?  A: A U-Haul.  Our origin was not so precipitous.  There was a marital separation involved, and there were houses to sell, and a nigh-unbearable year of long-distance dating faced us.  We took turns making the long I-want-to-see-her-so-badly drive, and each Sunday afternoon, when it was time to part, a car driving away felt like hearts rending.  In this way, we withstood the test of time and commitment.  It turned our love into a full and precious thing, worth the stirring, worth the crazy patience.

After it had simmered all afternoon and early evening, I spooned my first bite of soup from the ceramic bowl and closed my eyes, tasting the layers and flavors, the highest and best manifestation of a simple beginning seasoned with time.  My eyes remained closed.  I savored it.

Her kiss is just like that.

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