On the way to Santa Fe you get a phone call. It's for your husband. You overhear snippets and wait patiently. There is interest in another script. Real interest. Driving talk turns on a dime from the grocery list (where you just added butternut squash in bumpy cursive) to the wisdom vs. craziness of dropping the day's plans and booking a flight to LAX. You sit quietly in the hot car, squinting at the blur of sunbaked sage along the highway while your husband thinks it over (and inside you are jumping, yelling, Why not? Let's go! This is everything you've dreamed of- script meetings, casting conversations- but, really, it's his call). You do your best to embody Zen detachment.
What do you think? he turns and asks.
You just smile. He knows what you think. You've been bitching about being under-stimulated for weeks, getting all gloomy again. Then suddenly it's a go. You're leaving in twenty-four hours. You start picking through dirty jeans and shirts. Distracted by the early morning slant of sun warming the tumbleweeds, you leave the laundry to grab a camera. Five minutes later you notice the bowl of ripe tomatoes on the blue tiled counter. You can't just leave those. So you wash them gently, slice and toss them into a roasting pan with olive oil, herbs and cloves of garlic. You add a splash of balsamic vinegar. You slide the pan into a low-heat oven.
The house starts to smell like an Italian villa. You fold and iron and fold. You plug in your iPod Shuffle and choose 250 songs (no Sting). You think about Santa Monica and the last time you saw your son, Colin. You add some of his songs to your mix. Then you notice the roses you photographed this week (they have seen better days). You empty the pitcher. You get distracted by the beauty of the dead petals and dried leaves against the white garbage bag. You grab your camera.
You air out the luggage that has been in storage since May- sliding it into the bright afternoon sun (you'll have to tip it sideways later to scoot a frantic lizard back to his usual vertical perch on the adobe wall). You wonder if the tomatoes are done. It's been two hours. Or more. You peek into the oven and inhale the slow roasted garlicky dense tomato scent.
You try not to panic about what the heck you'll eat for the next week (staying at the one hotel where you could get a last minute reservation in your price range- there's no kitchenette, no microwave). You imagine bags of chips and jarred salsa dinners. You hope Real Food Daily will have choices that are gluten, soy, lemon, nut-blah blah blah- free. But you don't really care. Somehow it will all work out. Or maybe you're just deep in denial, you think to yourself. You breathe.
Then there's the last bit of autumn roasted green chile to think about. And half a bag of small gold potatoes. One big mother of a sweet potato. And one lonely uncooked organic burger. Might as well make a green chile stew before you hit the road.
So you heat some olive oil in a pot, toss in some chopped onion, garlic, and crumbled beef, and sprinkle said ingredients with cumin and chili powder and stir until browned, humming a K T Tunstall tune. You throw in cut up gold and sweet potatoes and the last of the chopped roasted green chile. You stir up some organic beef broth and pour it in. A dash of agave. You let the stew do its stew-y thing while you contemplate which pair of sneakers to wear on the plane- Rocket Dogs or Skechers? Tough call. You'll decide later.
There are toothbrushes and socks to be packed. But first, a glass of white table wine. Then a bowl of green chile stew.
This is the part of the movie when she looks at her husband sitting by the window, back lit by sweet light, and your chest aches in recognition. You see, the thing is, you always knew it. In your heart you just knew. Those movies everyone told you were fantasy? The on-screen or off-screen marriages that crackled with mutual admiration and no bullshit and you pined for that while those closest to you clucked in favor of sticking with your marital misery because - and I quote- No relationship is perfect and every marriage takes work?
Then why, Dear Reader- this time around, after twelve easy years- does it just keep getting easier? And life just gets more interesting? It's all about the risk. And trusting your gut. Whether it's making up a soup or reevaluating your career choice, or facing down familial opposition and sexual inertia because you actually believe in true love- it comes down to this.
You have this minute.
What are you going to do with it?