I came home from work yesterday and went straight to bed. Nothing was all that wrong. Some throbbing in my head made worse by meddlesome light and a small but irritating lump in my throat. Many people carry on their days this way. Not me. I wrapped myself in the down of our blanket like someone dying of frostbite and waited for Michael to come home. While I waited, I stared out the window with half-closed eyes and straight into the apartment of the people who live across the street. They are a young family of five---a mom, a dad, their two kids, and a dog. They live in a fishbowl; their life is a TV show I watch on mute. From where I lie, I see right into their kitchen, living, and dining area. A huge open space that gets utilized fairly often. I don’t know them personally, at least not yet with the weather this cold and all of us hurrying into our mouseholes, but I imagine come springtime, we’ll all be outside, coming and going, meeting and greeting, the kids doing things on the stoop that I find cute, and me in a folding chair drinking with a book. The seasons will bring about a change in everyone’s day-to-day, but until then, their huge flat-screen TV remains on all winter with one kid sitting at the dining room table doing what I’ve convinced myself to be crafts while one parent futzes around the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets. I lay there and watch, waiting for something different and interesting to happen. A surprise guest who will jump out of the closet. A family dance-off I can judge from bed. And then I wonder if they see me here, a single face peeking out from blankets in a darkened room like a sloppy spy. I wonder what they say about me. When Michael comes home, he lays in bed with me, covering my eyes with his hand because I have complained about there still being “too much light.” I say goodnight, Michael’s hand and my heavy eyelids the blinds to this family's bitter cold Friday night home life.
Today, Saturday, I am feeling better, and have come up with three things to do. Do yoga, write words, cook soup. Three things! What a luxury it is to only have three things on my plate. The family across the street must have thirty things on theirs. At least that’s what the television script has planned.
My favorite soup: Sweet Potato and Chorizo
From Smitten Kitchen
Make a big ol’ pot.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered, cut into ¼-inch slices
3 small white potatoes, peeled and quartered, cut into ¼-inch slices
6 cups chicken broth
A heaping handful or two of fresh spinach
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chorizo; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Add onions and garlic to pot with rest of oil and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add chorizo to soup. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.