This is my biggest fear: two single beds – me in one; S in the other. She has her iPhone, iPad, and Macbook as her companions. I only have a bottle of wine and my own laptop on which I watch the following in a continuous loop (based on the current selections available on the Netflix "Watch Instantly" queue): Grey's Anatomy, 30 Rock, Dawson's Creek, Parenthood; Grey's Anatomy, 30 Rock, Dawson's Creek, Parenthood.... Occasionally S and I will confer on what to order for take-out, or we'll spat about which couple we like better, Joey and Dawson or Joey and Pacey, but otherwise we don't speak. In the first few years friends visit; relatives call. Then repelled by the rats, squalor and pathetically adolescent TV listings, they slowly slack off, and we're forgotten.
In case you haven't figured it out, what I dread the most is becoming Big and Little Edie. So, to avoid the inevitable isolation, filth, and failure, I sent my kid off to boarding school to start the separation process. I only hope it was early enough; we're pretty entwined. I tend to forget that we're separate people.
"Boarding school?" you question. "Isn't that a little extreme?" Trust me, the $50,000 is worth staving off the dread. Almost. It would be better if I actually had $50,000, but that's another post. Of course we went through nearly a year of living hell to get to the send-off. We had to make sure it was the right thing. And as the months of sophomore year dragged on, months of being woken at midnight with the words, "I forgot I have an English paper due tomorrow, can you help me write it;" months of hearing as I walked in the door, "I already finished my homework," when I knew it was a lie; months of skirting my friends and colleagues who also happen to be her teachers, knowing they were talking about her, about us, it became clear: S will not do her homework if I'm within a 50 mile radius. So... 90 miles it is. I want to say, "so far, so good," because it really has been good, but I don't want to jinx it. At the very least my money (and the money of familial donors and whatever I find on the street) is paying for other people to bug her to do her work. And right now that feels like enough.
In the days leading up to the send off, comfort food was needed, and here's what I made:
April Bloomfield's Summer Tomato Soup and Grilled Mozzarella and Speck Sandwiches (this meal was actually eaten on 9/1/12 - save it for next August). I'm only providing the recipe for the soup, since I assume you know how to make a grilled cheese.
Summer Tomato Soup,
adapted from A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield
7 medium heirloom tomatoes (about 3 pounds)
¼ c plus 3 T extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
A small handful of basil leaves
3 T flaky sea salt
Halve the tomatoes through the stem and cut out the cores and any hard, pale bits. Use your fingers to push out the juice and seeds, strain the juice through a sieve into a bowl, stirring and smooshing to extract as much liquid as possible, and discard the solids left behind.
Combine 3T of the olive oil and the garlic in a medium pot or deep pan that has a lid and is large enough to hold the tomatoes comfortably, then set it over medium-high heat. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, cook it, stirring often, until it’s a light golden color and fragrant, a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes and the strained juice along with 5 or so of the basil leaves and 1 T of the salt and give it a gentle stir. After a minute or so, pour in ¼ c water. Turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Peek inside after 5 minutes, and when the tomatoes look like they’re swimming in their own juice, take off the lid and adjust the heat so it simmers gently. Let simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes slightly so they release more juice, until the liquid has thickened a bit.
Turn off the heat and add the remaining 2 T salt, the rest of the basit, and the remaining ¼ olive oil. Blend the mixture, working in batches if necessary, until it’s very smooth and has a lovely creamy texture. Pour it back into the pot, stir, and add a bit more salt, if you want. Serve.