The Feminist Kitchen quietly turned 5 this summer.
So did the little boy whose arrival is what nudged me to start it in the first place.
I turned 32 smack dab in the middle of summer, when the cicadas are the loudest and the watering holes most quenching.
If you don’t count Instagram, it has been really nice to live so much of my life offline in this year since the divorce.
I haven’t blogged much because I’m still figuring out this new filter. I wrote about an old quilt, buying a house, Those Narcissists on Facebook. I guess it’s time to blog about Spain, and I can’t blog about Spain unless I start with heartbreak.
I suffered one earlier this year from someone who, thankfully, was smart enough to know that he was only pretending to be emotionally available. The problem was, in addition to opening my heart to him, I’d already started loving his children, who are as precocious and kind and curious as my own. I didn’t really need reminding that my heart is in fine working order, but I got that reminder anyway.
That was a few months before Brene Brown’s newest book on resiliency, “Rising Strong,” came out. No where in that book did she advise “Go to Spain,” but that’s what the little voice inside me told me to do as I was licking my wounds.
I’d just turned 19 when I packed all my stuff into a backpack and blindly headed to a country where I kinda spoke the language. It wasn’t until I was standing in a train station in Zaragoza trying to ask for the word for “schedule” did I realize how far away from fluency I really was.
I spent all of my junior year in a Mediterranean city called Alicante. The City of Light, complete with a castle overlooking the beach.
It was a dreamy place to live, but that year brought previously unknown hardships and joys. I had no idea at the time that the experience simply prepared me for the other hardships and joys I would face in the decade to come. Losing Troy. Becoming a mom. Undergoing a makeover on national television. Getting married and starting the food writing job within the same two-week span. Struggling to stay married for the next six years while being a breadwinner, cookbook author and new mom (again).
While all that life was going on, I dreamed about walking through the streets of Spain. Not every week or even every month, but they were my most vivid dreams. The roller coaster of those newborn years didn’t exactly permit international travel. I kept putting off a return trip because of the cost and my parental duties, but when G and I broke up, I knew I needed to spend the money and take the time to revisit the place that indelibly shaped who I am and how I deal with tough situations.
I’d been through so much worse than a breakup in the years since I lived in Spain, but I hadn’t been on the receiving end of one since….well….I don’t know if you’d call all those rejections and false starts in college and after the divorce “breakups,” so maybe never.
Sure enough, that trip to Spain was just the salve my inner self needed to start the healing process. (Yes, as Brene Brown would point out, I’m skipping the reckoning and rumbling part of this resiliency story, but those feelings are sorted out elsewhere. :) )
I’m back to regular old life, regular old dating, regular old work. I say that, but this fall, with both of my boys in elementary school for the first time, an entire year of being officially divorced under my belt and an inner journey that feels as deep and meaningful and intentional as ever, it’s really the farthest thing from “regular old” anything.
I took on a side job with a new project called Food+City, which you’ll be hearing more about in the next few weeks. I’m in my groove at the newspaper. The kids and I take the most wonderful adventures and have found our rhythm as a family of three. I’m finally blogging again!
(Shout out to BlogathonATX for the inspiring conference yesterday that gave me the nudge to start telling this story again. I recently went to a BookPeople event with Mary Karr, author of “The Liars’ Club” and “The Art of Memoir,” and asked her what she thought of the idea that blogging was akin to live-memoir-ing. She, not unexpectedly, hated the idea. Oh, well.)
You’ll be happy to know, dear reader, that I have picked myself up by the bootstraps and am dating again. Not long after G, I met a handsome musician and got wrapped up in a relationship of suspended disbelief, which was just what I needed after dating the much-older G, who’d mastered the art of responsibility, this one was exactly my age.
This one, his only commitment was to the band. I got to feel like a carefree 32-year-old who happened to be a mom 3.5 days a week. Just what I needed during those sunny summer months.
I’ve never been good at letting go, but I’m getting better at it. Letting go of my ego and my need for control. Letting go of the need to be right, the need to be needed.
When I started the Feminist Kitchen in 2010, I had no idea that it would evolve into something else that I’d have to learn to let go of — like Spain, like the story I thought I’d write, the life I thought I’d lead — so that it could come back to me in due time or a different form.
I’m looking forward to telling more stories here, some longer live-memoir posts (sorry, Mary), some shorter thoughts or articles I think are worth sharing. Who knows if they’ll fit under the original Feminist Kitchen umbrella, but I’m not too worried.
Like life, it’ll sort itself out.