The crowds are gone, the college students have gone back to school, the cousins (all but one) and nieces and nephews and friends have all returned to their cities, and our home is quiet again. We are having a blissfully slow Sunday.
I got a cold sometime over the holiday. I think I took my son's because as soon as I got sick, he got better. I pushed through until this morning when we packed the cars and waved everyone off in their different directions and then my head began to spin and I wanted nothing more than to climb under the covers and sleep. Which I did for two delicious hours this afternoon. It was the kind of sleep where you hear everything happening in all parts of the house, my husband yelling "Touchdown!" at the football game on TV in the living room, my daughter's homework papers rustling at the kitchen table, the little girls in the apartment across from us skipping with their grandmother to the elevator down the hall. And yet it was a restful sleep. I awoke near five and lay there with my eyes closed until my daughter landed with a body thud on the bed beside me.
"Mom," she moaned, putting her face right up to mine. "I'm so bored and I want to cook and I don't want to do history."
"What do you want to cook?"
"I don't know," she moaned again, then sat up. "Do you think the recession will be over by the time I get out of college?"
"Yes, definitely," I said, believing it.
"Really?" She brightened visibly. "Because I want people to have enough money to come and eat at my restaurant. I want to be a famous chef."
"That's great, but didn't you tell me before that you didn't want to be a chef?"
"That was because I didn't think I could be successful in a recession." she clarified. "I want to be Pisticci, not Blue Angel"—the former being an Italian restaurant we frequent, the latter being a promising Thai restaurant that went out of business in a few short months.
"But Pisticci is thriving in the recession," I noted.
"That's because they established their fan base before everything crashed," she explained to me patiently.
I chose not to argue her point. Instead I said, "If you want to be a successful chef, then own it. Claiming your dream is the first step." I think I say things like this because of the personal growth stories I too often find myself editing at my job.
"Great!" she exclaimed. Then: "Mom, I want to do cooking classes." She ran out of the room, came back in with her laptop, and started Googling culinary schools in the city. "I want to start now," she said definitively.
She looked up the French Culinary Institute and saw that the amateur series cost upwards of $7000 for a few months. "Well, that's not happening," she said. She clicked over to the Italian Culinary Institute, which offers an 8-class series on the Essentials of Italian Cooking, including pasta, meats, antipasti, sauces and desserts. She has to be seventeen to enroll, and the next series starts two days after her seventeenth birthday. "Yesss," she exulted. "Someone is smiling on me!" And right then and there, she began to solicit her parents permission to apply—and agreement to pay.
She would attend classes two evenings a week from five-thirty to ten-thirty, and she swears that she would keep up with her schoolwork and not let her grades slip. I told her go for it.
Next she clicked over to a cooking blog she recently discovered and her voice took on that moan of sincere desire again. "Mom, look at this food photography. I want to make food look like that! Our kitchen light is too yellow."
From there we began to analyze how the blogger had styled her photos, the white seamless backdrop, the pretty cloths, the simple plates that didn't compete with the food. I said, "Well I have all these pretty tea clothes and napkins and table cloths that my mom gave me. They've just been sitting in the linen closet. Now I know why I have them!"
We found that kind of funny since I am not much of a lace and embroidery person and while we were laughing she decided to remake the cinnamon rolls she made two nights ago, which all our house guests ooohed and ahhhed over. But while she was happy with the taste of her first-time experiment, she was less thrilled with how the rolls were photographed. She posted the pictures to her food blog anyway, but now she has decided to redo the rolls and try photographing them differently.
"But, don't you have history homework to finish?" I dared to remind her. She gets huge volumes of history homework every night, a couple of hours worth at least.
"I have to wait for the dough to rise," she said happily. "One hour after I make it, and then another hour after I roll it up with the cinnamon. And then it goes it the oven. I'll do history while the dough is rising and finish it while the buns are baking."
And with that, she jumped up, pulled on her boots and jacket and went to the store to buy yeast and flour.
Definitely true love.