When Sean found out that he got the job, I remember feeling nauseated but excited, like the feeling you get when you decide to ride the biggest rollercoaster at the park. Heart racing, nails digging into your palms, you drag yourself toward the terrifying metal structure. And that’s how moving was: I slowly packed up my Boston apartment, riddled with anxiety, fists clenched, sweating.
I panicked over how to fit my cast iron skillet into a medium sized brown Home Depot box when really I was just terrified to move there, the place I left 10 years before.
I showed up there one month later, after a pleasantly mind numbing road trip through fields of grain and corn and wheat, after 14 hotels and camp sites in places where no one knew us. I picked up my new keys from my dad in the middle of the Azteca parking lot in the middle of the day in the middle of August in the middle of the Seattle suburbs. He hugged me and I remember looking at him while my dog pooped on the pavement and thinking “Can I do this?” The permanence of my decision seemed transparent, like I could see it all clearly but I could see right through it, too, to the other side where there existed a moment when I hadn’t packed up my life and moved it thousands of miles away.
When we arrived, our tiny apartment was so crowded with boxes that we couldn’t move around without standing chest to chest in the hallway. My mom. My dad. My childhood best friend. My brother. Me. My husband. The dog. After a mediocre dinner together at a mediocre new bar in the neighborhood, during which the harried waitress misheard my request for my favorite drink – a bee’s knees cocktail – and instead brought me hot water with gin in it, I came home. I sat on the mattress on the floor of our new bedroom. My dog tried to escape out the back door, unsure of where he was. I chased him down the stairs, grabbed him by the collar and pinned him to a car. Then I dragged him back inside and sobbed so hard that I could feel my brain pressing against the back of my eye balls. I sobbed so hard that I thought the pain in my chest might come heaving out my mouth, so hard that the colors in the room dripped and burned and I thought I might run out of breath or die.
I CAN’T DO THIS, I wailed to my husband.
You can, he said.
And I did. The shock of arrival was worse than the settling, it turned out. This new place was softer than I expected, easier than I remembered. It all felt mysterious at first, like my once-anxiety riddled high school life in Seattle had been traded in for a newer, shiny model.
I’ve started reading through my junior high and high school journals this week and as I look hard at how my old stories came into being, I’m finding that my demons are becoming less scary, less life altering, less commanding. It is true that I left Seattle for a reason all those years ago. But my biggest lesson in returning has been this: There is power in staring hard into what we think might destroy us. Because if we stare hard enough, we might find that those demons of ours are simply shadows of the tiny broken things we already knew.
I still feel slightly aghast most of the time here in Seattle, full of a bursting sense of surprise. I’m finding, in the end, that I like it here very much.
Thai Turkey Meatballs in a Coconut Green Curry Sauce
Or “A recipe to share with Mom and Dad.” Serves 6. Recipe adapted from Feasting at Home.
- 1-2 lbs ground turkey
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 T grated fresh ginger (or 1 t powdered ginger)
- 1 T soy sauce
- 2 T fish sauce (or 1 t salt)
- 2 t red chili paste
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3 T cilantro
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 T green curry paste (or 2 t yellow curry power, which will make this a yellow curry dish and not a green one)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Squeeze of lime, plus lime zest
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Add the turkey, shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, breadcrumbs and cilantro to a bowl. Mix just until combined, then shape the mixture into meatballs (about 2 T per meatball) and place them on a greased cookie sheet.
Put the meatballs in the fridge for about an hour to let them firm up.
Then add a splash of olive or coconut oil to a fairly large skillet (we used our 12″ cast iron) and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the pan is hot, add the meatballs and watch them, turning each meatball until they are browned on all sides.
While the meatballs are browning, whisk your curry power or paste into the coconut milk in a bowl. Slowly add this mixture to the pan, plus the chicken stock and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, turning the meatballs every 3-4 minutes. You’ll know the dish is ready when the meatballs are cooked through (there should be little to no pink).
Garnish the dish with cilantro, green onions, lime juice and lime zest. We served it for dinner over rice noodles, but my mom ate hers over buckwheat noodles and gave rave reviews. Plain ol’ rice is also an option, or you could make this as an appetizer and serve the meatballs in lettuce cups.