Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Random Memory

Last night as I was laying in bed, I remembered a meal I had when I was fourteen.  I was at a taco stand in Tijuana with my church group.  We all sat on stools at a large counter to order and eat.  I remember being fascinated watching the chef grab a ball of dough from a huge pile of similar little balls and flatten it between his hands.  He moved quickly, barely seeming to touch the dough as he spun it around in his hands, yet it got flatter and flatter before he flung it onto the grill to sizzle and covered it in shredded cheese.

I think there was meat -- I hadn't become vegetarian yet, but what i remember most was the soft tortilla and the oozing cheese.  The tortilla had the thinnest, glassiest outer shell that shattered almost imperceptibly before giving way to the warm, soft, chewy interior, sandwiching stringy, salty, milky cheese.  It was perfect.  The homemade salsa made it divine.  The platonic ideal of a quesadilla.

After eating (and drinking my first jarritos - fresa), we walked back to the home we were all camping in.  Walking through the town square in the warm night in another country, I felt very grown up, very free, and very cultured.  My belly was comfortably full, I was surrounded by friends, I felt very warm.  My arms and legs tingled with the stars shining down on us.  My mind was quiet.

Later in the trip, we would travel to a shanty town built by flood refugees.  I remember the millions of sunflowers on the sides of the road dancing in the wind from the van as we drove by.  I remember the scrawny dogs and cardboard houses.  I remember holding hands with beautiful Cristina, who looked like Lumi Cavasos, and her cousin--two girls who were not much younger than I was, maybe 10 or 11, but toward whom I felt protective and motherly.  I remember teaching them to sing "Jesus te amo" and "Yo tengo allegria, allegria en mi corazon."  I remember not wanting to bother them with the conversion speech we had been taught.  They took me to meet Cristina's mother and invited me into their house.

Some of the men in our group built a house, and we had a picnic of hot dogs in a nearby park.

Cristina wrote to me once after we left.  I think I forgot to write back (I suck.), but I kept the letter for a long time, along with the picture of the three of us girls that one of the youth group leaders took.  I haven't thought about it since long before we moved from Pittsburg to the big, new house my dad built in Clayton.  I was 17 when we moved - I had probably lost it long before that.

And on top of it all... what was I saying?

Several months ago, my darling superhero boyfriend and I got engaged.  We've been kind of half-ass wedding planning, looking for venues here and there (mostly just wine tasting), becoming obsessed with wedding blogs (me, not him), chatting occasionally about what we want (me: "cowboy boots!" him: "hell no! Since when are you a cowboy?").

It's now about a year out, and I'm afraid things are about to start ramping up -- at the same time I am ravenously job hunting.  Awesome.

My mom is planning an engagement party, and we've chosen a venue, basically:  this really lovely private ranch out near my parents' house.  It's a bit of a drive for everyone except my family, but it's got some really really gorge!gorge! trees, a view of Mt. Diablo over the back of the farm house, and they don't have a lot of restrictions as to which caterer we can use, where we have to buy booze, etc.

I have this plan in my head for the feeling of the wedding that I'm not sure Phil approves of or even totally understands yet.  Maybe it doesn't even make sense except in my head, but it goes like this:

A kind of old-California style: a lot like an afternoon MFK Fisher would spend outside her SoCal house in the summertime, a little bit of the laid-back-ness-hand-out-the-window of a summer road trip, some rock and roll, some fun 60's jazz, awesome 70's country rock, some spanish-colonial-mission-style prettiness, some "earth's the right place for love"

flowing white fabric in the trees
and a bright flowy banner for the kids to carry to lead the guests from one area to another
blowsy pink peonies + pretty cool-colored succulents + herbs + tree branches + citrus blossoms

herby-bourbony coolers

poppies and lupine overflowing the edges of the world

owls and quail hanging out and overseeing everything (gog and magog, my blue-green quail buddies have got to sit somewhere)

pressed glass (clear and green and blue and maybe milk)
white candles
white lace
mission-style wood furniture

“Earth’s the right place for love:  I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.”  Robert Frost, “Birches”

“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.” M.F.K. Fisher, Serve it Forth

oh la la.


"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."