Monday, March 25, 2013
Dependability floats. It rides the currents of the sea untethered.
It is not so thick, so dumb, as a rock - some bit of earth the ocean has forgiven, but not forgotten. Dependability floats. It is not the salty deep six, not its child the surf, not it’s prodigal bay. Dependability can sit the entire day in the sun, and never freckle.
I love it more than anything, dependability. I am sentimental about it; I recall my father being wistful when schooling me in mathematics. “Math,” he told my seven year old self, “never lies”. He would then stack multiplication tables, talking to himself about architecture. “A building! A building is a thing you can depend on.”
He loved it more than anything, the fixed arch. While everything would expand and contract around it, the fixed arch would make the best of compression. “In this world,” he would say, “you can count on compression”,
It is best to be resilient; my Mother taught me that. Just because the waves will never, never cease; it does not mean you will someday drown. Resolve was a matter of will, not a matter of debate. She came from the Roanoke Valley, in the foothills of the Virginia Appalachians; she could not depend on anything. She raised my brothers and I on a mythology she did not inherit but rather invented: hope. Hope is the thing that makes dependability float on broken sea. Hope is the thing you put in your rice and beans.
Hope is the steam the makes your kitchen damp, the salt that stays in the crease of your palm. Dependability is the wide hipped luxury of thickening beans in the pot. The bean asks for so little, and gives so much. Time after time, the bean is the guy who’s going to help you move your couch.
I turn to rice and beans when I need that kind of thing, when it seems lost or beyond my periphery. When the clean blue of a spring sky, cloudless and guiltless, is chilled cold by a thin, Northern Sun. When the light off the riven does not reflect, when the traffic circles in on itself, marches west to the horizon. Rice and Beans remind me: there is hope, and hope is dependable.
There is this thing we can all do, this great bit of sorcery, in cooking. In bestowing on an ingredient purpose, and bestowing on ourselves the gift of love. That is the future I see in the soup, as I stir the beans. That is the sound of rice slipping through your fingertips, raining is more like it. And that steam, it rises and meets your tears, the way the ocean meets the fog. Each taste, though, each testing of the spice, each invocation, steadies the maelstrom. Each bit of salt reminds you the lust of thirst, the thirst for life. And you are buoyant, no longer fighting the ocean but a part of it. Hocus, Pocus. This is the magic of dependability.