I mentioned that Joe and I are going on a bit of a (semi)Vegan Adventure this summer. As I type this, Joe & I are at the kitchen table eating vegan things and sipping gin & tonic. We’re guzzling water with spearmint leaves, because we’re struggling to find something more original to do with spearmint leaves. So far, this summer has led to some serious successes… and some slips into pizza ordering.
That said, I feel good. I feel like I’m waking up with the sun; I feel like I want to be moving; I feel like leaning back and letting the sun wash over my face until I begin to see spots mixed with the black behind my closed eyes.
This is important. This, right now, is the first summer that Joe & I have spent together–or rather, simply, wholly together. There were the summers of 2007 & 2008 of awkward, dating-still-seems-new long-distance, when we parted ways for college summers–one quite drastically, as I went to France for classes. There was 2009, when I lived with Joe in St. Louis but work schedules meant were we only together late on weekday evenings. There was 2010, when I was in Ohio & he was in St. Louis, and then there was the wedding, and the moving abroad. There was 2011, when we were coming back to the States and visiting family and moving between family houses and driving through the Midwest and moving to our apartment. There was 2012, when Joe flew across the Western half of the country as a reading program substitute teacher.
Now, there is 2013. We are moving, but only from one side of town to the other. We are working, but normal hours and within 15 minutes of each other. We are traveling, but together.
It makes each meal we prepare more meaningful and each morning at market or in the garden feel like a gift. We’ve done something active, from walking to biking to playing basketball, five of the last seven days. We’ve been to the farmers’ market and mostly avoided wasting what we buy.
We’ve been thinning out our lives, forming a marriage bucket list & planning for the big move. We put out peppers and tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts & herbs. Strawberries are also growing in our community garden plot, a sign that for the next several years we intend to be in this space.
For a long time, I’ve been afraid of the word “settling.” People my age, when startled by the idea that I’ve been married for nearly three years, say that they’re not ready to “settle down.” I’m puzzled by this, because neither am I. And I feel pushed to try, see & be more with Joe than I would feel on my own–I’d be hidden away with a bottle of gin & Mad Men DVDs until my friends started gradually buying me more bunnies; I’d maybe go to the park and feed pigeons my stale bread.
The strawberries feel less like settling and more like living our lives, no matter for what time span, in the exact way we mean to spend them. I was afraid that planting the strawberries, which can take a few years to be fully established, would launch me into a panic–are we nearing an age where we stop trying to be adventurous?
No. And while we crave a place to put down deeper roots–and asparagus and cherry trees and blueberries–we also still crave adventure. So while the budget has limited us to this simple vegan adventure for the summer of 2013, the joy of being together is challenging us and making us grow as much as any backpacking trek or road trip might. We’re feeling rather whole again.
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Yesterday morning, I sat down at the table with a stack of cookbooks and some Post Its. I marked off all the simple, summer flavor-filled recipes for us to try. Tomato salads and new ways to use eggplant. Green beans. New blends of spices. We’re trying to give ourselves the time at market, walking through each aisle before rushing off. Buying what looks best, preserving as the season goes on & taking time to try new things with familiar and new ingredients.
We’re using a larger mix of grains, including more barley, spelt & oats in our diet and reducing wheat. Do I think a gluten-free life is important for us? No. But I think Wheatless Wednesdays carry as much weight as Meatless Mondays. Diversity is the name of the game for health, & many of these other grains have less stripped away–more of a nutrient punch, filling, lots of options for playing with recipes.
We’re having fun. And we hope you are, too. What do your summer adventures look like?