A Letter to My Kitchen on Bryant Street

I miss my tiny kitchen off Bryant Street. I think about it often.

When I said goodbye to you, and that entire apartment, I collapsed in the tiny hallway and cried harder than I’ve ever cried in my life.

When I sat up, all I said was, “I’m tired. I got nothin’ left.”

It was the first night I slept in my new room, in a house full of people I barely knew with a sweet dog that would bark at me, only because I was unfamiliar.

It should be obvious now that this is about more than a kitchen.
Leaving a space (and a life) that had been so sacred to me was hard. It’s still hard. I only live down the road, and pass it quite often.

But the kitchen.

The tiniest kitchen ever. It could barely keep up. But it did.
The dishes. The broken down sink. The awful 50’s tile work. A window where I would watch our neighbors fight, and their kids run around, as if they were part of their own resistance to a world they didn’t ask for.

It’s where I learned how to cook — where I spent hours leaning over pots and pans, tasting and tasting and tasting.
Where I fed many people.

Heart and hearth of a home.
(Though that sounds like something you would find on a pillow at Kirkland’s…)

My home.
And I had to leave it too soon.
I knew I had to move.
This is what a separation means. There’s no perforated line that can be easily torn. When you separate from another human being, there is weight and space and memory.

It was one of my worst days.

A few weeks after we moved out, I took a walk and ended up making a pass to see if you were still there.
I saw the landlords had decided to tear you out, as it probably needed to be done.

But I stood their, with my arms draped over the fence. I lost it as I saw our old cabinets and shelves tossed, getting soggy in the rain. My kitchen. Torn to bits.

I walked back to my new home, taking deep breaths, knowing how loosely these things are regarded. And I regretted not hopping the fence, and taking a piece with me. But I knew I didn’t have to.

Because it will always be with me.

The place where I found a world that made sense to me. A place where I added salt and time and frustration.
I knew I’d be able to have a kitchen again, someday. Though not now, I imagine a place for my things. Where my metal pots will clang and sit dirty in a sink and be renewed for their next task.

Where my knives will sit. Sharp. Shiny. Steel.

I will mourn my Bryant St. kitchen. I will remember all the goodness that flowed because you allowed me to grow into a cook. You allowed me to explore and concentrate and spoil other people.

You gave me the means to feel strong about my intuition, and to nourish the bones of the Beloved.

And for all of that, all I can say is,

thank you.

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12 responses

  1. There is no place that is not important, for better or for worse. I know the ache in my stomach of passing buildings, floors, doorknobs that hold hundreds, maybe thousands, of tiny moments, that make one big memory. Place.

  2. I don’t know, Josh. You’re so real. And the name of your blog is catchy. And you’re passionate about cooking; pretty darn good at it, I bet; and generous with your recipes. All I can say is: next Food Network star! What d’ya think?

  3. I love this! It’s funny, though, because I’ve moved 25 times in 26 years … I know what it means and what it takes to let go – REALLY let go – because I found that you cannot fully embrace your new ‘space’ – with all of life’s details that come with the new – while still holding on to the old. Yet, the places I’ve moved from have left enough of an imprint to leave me changed.

    There are places and people I still miss painfully. But I know that if I returned there today, the place would not be the same – simply because when I left, I changed.

  4. This is beautiful. Reading this makes me want to write about my car Ernest. I had to send him away for junk because the trans blew and I couldn’t afford to fix it. One day, I broke down crying at church when someone asked about the car. It was more than just a car; Ernest was my friend. We had our differences, but he was my first car, and I had had him for nearly 5 years.

    I’m totally sharing this post; it was wonderfully written.

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