Last week, my relationship ended. The dissolution had been months in the making. We were desperate miners trying to pass off pyrite as gold. For a while we believed we could. But in the end we couldn’t.
Last week was also when New York City was ravaged by below-freezing temperatures. Being indoors felt sad, so I filled my schedule with outdoor activity in hopes of sparing no time for nostalgia. Yet the cold city thrived with warm memories. Mine. His. There was his old apartment in the East Village where he lived after college. His favorite pizza joint. The cafe in Clinton Hill where he’d begrudgingly get his egg sandwiches. “Horrible service but convenient,” he’d always say. My tear ducts throbbed whenever I’d see a couple canoodling in public. He and I were such unapologetic offenders of public canoodling.
Shopping at Whole Foods was the worst. The aisles were stocked with stories.
Daikon: The first time I cooked dinner for him.
Ribeye: The first time he cooked for me.
Kale: Every single time we ate dinner with his kids. God, I miss his kids.
Nuts: We had only been dating for a few weeks when he left for a month-long photo shoot in Texas. I woke up in his bed the day he left, hung-over and hungry. I stumbled into his kitchen in search of provisions and found an empty bowl and a jar of nuts on the counter. Next to the still life display was a Post-it note that read, “And the yogurt in the frig for breakfast. XX” He had written “frig” but I didn’t care that the “d” and “e” were missing or that he was missing, because everything in my life had fallen into place at that moment. And at that moment, I was at his place, blissfully eating his yogurt.
When Po-Po started her new life as a widow, she had to adjust to the newfound stillness and negative space. One set of chopsticks instead of two. One less bowl of oatmeal to wash after breakfast. When the fridge and freezer started to overflow with leftovers, she realized she didn’t know how to cook for one. So she simply invited more people over for dinner. Any extra food would be distributed among family members. As her fridge emptied out, ours started filling up with her homemade soy milk, baos, hot sauce, smoked chicken, and more. Ironically as Po-Po's fridge got emptier, she felt less lonely.
Besides memories, I too have been plagued by a primal urge to give and receive love. To cook for two. To smell fresh espresso waiting for me in the mornings. (This was his way of luring me out of bed.) I cook too much for a single person. I can't stop browsing Amazon for espresso machines that won’t fit in my apartment. I don't want to adapt, but I have to.
Last week, my relationship ended. This week, my new life begins.
Easy Homemade Soy Milk 豆漿
Makes about 4 cups
Po-Po always made huge batches of soy milk. She’d keep one little bottle for herself and give cartons away to family members. It’s great to have in the morning as breakfast, heated in a pot with an egg slurry beaten into it.
2 cups organic soybeans, soaked
4-5 cups filtered water plus more for soaking
Soak soybeans in cold water overnight. Steam or cook soybeans in a pot of water until soft and cooked through, about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain cooked soybeans and place in a blender or if using a stick blender, place in bowl. Add water to soybeans and blend until smooth. Strain with a cheesecloth. Place soymilk in a medium pot over the stove and reheat. Add sugar if desired. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring often. Drink warm or refrigerate after it’s cooled.