July 14, 2004

Tara’s Feast

The next week passed without incident, while I tried to settle into a normal routine as my body recovered. Mostly, this consisted of sitting around the house being terminally bored. David and Janice, of course, had had to return to classes when the week started again, so they were gone for the bulk of the day. Adam, who tended to work two or three temp jobs at any given time, had an unpredictable schedule but currently was also absent during daylight hours on weekdays. There weren’t any pending design jobs as far as my own work was concerned, and I had no particular urge to go outside, still somewhat disturbed by what had happened the last time I’d left the house. I knew that was something that I’d have to deal with sooner or later, but for the time being I was content with whittling away the time reading and watching television. On the other hand, I’d been coming more to grips with everything I’d been through—most importantly, that what had happened had been an accident, that my friends didn’t blame me, and in fact were glad I was safe.

The highlight of the week was definitely my return to the world of solid food on Wednesday. It was about two in the afternoon, and I’d been home alone contemplating making myself a sandwich but dreading the trip out into the cold to procure the needed ingredients. So instead I ended up curled on the couch with another bowl of applesauce, reading A. S. Byatt’s Babel Tower. Like a guardian angel, Adam had suddenly appeared in the kitchen doorway, loaded down with plastic bags heaping with groceries.

“I come bearing good news,” he announced, hamming it up. “There will be a grand banquet to commemorate this glorious occasion!” He held the bags up at his sides and winked, before disappearing back through the doorway.

I tiptoed into the kitchen, trying to get a glimpse of whatever he’d bought, but he was onto me.

“No fair peeking.”

“Are you sure you don’t need any help? You’re not doing this alone, are you?”

“Honestly, Tara, I’m on top of it. This is fun for me.”

Adam was a wizard in the kitchen, like he was in so many other ways. Every so often he’d whip up a meal that would have the rest of us screaming in thanks to whichever just and loving deity had allowed such divine food to exist. Back in the day, shortly after Adam and I had both dropped out of our respective schools, I’d toyed with the idea of suggesting that the two of us use my trust fund money to start up a restaurant. I knew inside that it would never have worked, though. With him it was always a matter of inspiration; he was probably the most brilliant and creative person I’d ever met, but he’d never been able to make things work unless he was in the mood. He was prone to long bouts of depression, during which he would be almost incapable of keeping his attention on any task long enough to finish it. Apparently, the onset of his concentration problems coincided with his family’s emigration to New Jersey, and were probably the root cause of his failure in college. But when he was on, he was definitely on.

For most people, the flames of inspiration burn close to the surface. With Adam, it was the opposite. When he was in the zone, it was made obvious by supreme calmness and self-confidence. These moments were rare and often short-lived, but when they happened, the result—whether a painting, a song, a meal, or whatever—was usually unpredictable and extraordinary.

By the time Janice and David arrived (too simultaneous to be mere coincidence; a conspiracy revealed!), glorious aromas had filled the air throughout the house. I was back on the couch, having resumed my reading after being expelled from the kitchen. David appeared first, giving me a quick wave before bounding upstairs to deposit his bag. Janice showed up less than a minute later, carrying a brown paper bag in addition to her backpack. When she saw me, her face lit up with a mischievous grin.

“Libations!” I said, returning the smile.

Setting the sack on the coffee table, she pulled out a bottle of peach schnapps and a twelve-pack of Heineken. “Ayup. Real food won’t be the only thing you’re getting back on today. It’s a celebration, after all.”

“It sure is turning out that way. How long did you two know about this plan?”

“Just last night, after you went to bed. You know how Adam is—we were just talking and the whole idea suddenly came pouring out of his mouth. Totally spontaneous.”

“Fifteen minutes!” came the yell from the kitchen.

This time the product wasn’t a typical Adam meal, but only because he wasn’t trying to invent anything new: instead, we were served a veritable feast of known Tara comfort foods: corned beef brisket with royal mushroom gravy, candied yams, macaroni and cheese. After days of tomato soup and oatmeal, it was simply divine.

It turned out that my stomach wasn’t up to such a large first meal, and so I contented myself by sampling a little of everything and letting everyone else enjoy the food. Adam appeared to be a little disheartened when he realized. Janice, noticing, whispered, “He made a caramel cheesecake too. It’s in the kitchen.”

“Adam,” I said, smiling, “there’s always room for cheesecake.”

Posted by eden on 14 Jul 2004 | Comments (0)