Vignettes from three days of food and dependence

Steve held out the narrow eggplant and I cut them from the stem like Uwa taught me, with a little kitchen knife Cliff had pulled from his back pocket. Michael, out of town, had said we could harvest his plot. Most of the plots at La FInquita, the community farm on our block, are communal. Steve had already rooted out green beans from among the vines. Enders was snipping ornamental peppers in yellow and red and purple and green, sprinkled over their bushes like Christmas lights.

Michael’s individual plot was grandfathered in from an earlier era. One day the farm might introduce them again, maybe lined along the back fence, but no big changes are going to happen until a legal battle with developers is settled. New apartments are going up or being renovated on nearly every side of the farm. All across the neighborhood lime green bumper stickers on front doors, mailboxes, and cars form a quiet front: “I Support La FInquita,” they read.

Steve and I snipped bunches of basil and fix them together with rubber bands. We did the same with carrots, helping Mathew group them into bundles. The carrots were mostly a deep purple. They looked as though they should be translucent, like quartz. A carrot had branched into three stalactites, one of which is coiled around another like a spiral stair. Green globular zebra tomatoes, a bucket of dusty red cherry tomatoes, starting to split.

I don’t often take lazy days. Sunday was one of them, and it was glorious. After the farm stand, I biked up to Norris Square and lay under a tree, reading in the shade. When my need to find a bathroom overwhelmed my need to keep learning about the history of the Voting Rights Act, I cycled to a pizza place slash ice cream shop down the street. The ice cream shop, Little Baby’s, is known for its experimental flavors. Ranch was on the menu when I walked in. I asked for a taste of buttered popcorn — tasted a lot like the Jelly Belly flavor — and brown butter brawler, which was spectacular, creamy and toasty and caramelized. My ice cream craving, minor before, shot through the roof. I thought about getting a scoop, and then I thought about Steve. We were planning to drive up to a state park in a little while, and I thought he would probably want ice cream too. I didn’t cave, but I did shutter. An inconsequential decision, but it made me feel codependent.

Two hours later, making our way up to Wissahickon, I tried to navigate us to an ice cream shop. The first was closed, and the next closest was 15 minutes out of our way. At that point though, I was determined. Steve got chocolate and cookie dough with hot fudge. I got mint cookie and chocolate peanut butter. “Nice move, missy,” Steve play-scolded me. “Getting two flavors you know I don’t like. That’s a good way not to share.” I rolled my eyes. I love peanut and mint, he doesn’t eat them. “Give me a break,” I said.

I gobbled up almost all my ice cream before we even arrived at the park. We both felt sick and sugar-loaded the rest of the afternoon.

On Tuesday, when I finished news blogging early, I decided to join Steve on a trip to Ikea. I didn’t need to. He was mainly looking for a low dresser to go under the projector in the living room. But we also needed some odds and ends, so I tagged along.

I should have known. There was Ikea, a stop at Target, a trip to the bank. I picked up a piece of furniture I bought off a Facebook yard sale group from a couple about to embark on a backpacking trip through Europe, and five rolls of developed film. We didn’t get home until 4:30, and I still had work to do.

I was pretty efficient. By 7:15 I was done, and ready to pick up one last piece of used furniture before settling in for the night. (Ironically, it was an IKEA bookshelf, the exact same one Steve had bought for himself new a few weeks earlier. Mine will go upstairs, in my office.) I came downstairs and found Steve in a flurry of activity. He had put together the projector cabinet, and was in the middle of assembling a baker’s rack in the kitchen. He hadn’t eaten, and he was grumpy. He had expected that I would make dinner. “I have to go pick up this shelf,” I told him, feeling bad that he had been toiling away with the idea that soon I’d be able to do that for him. I could cook, just had to run this quick errand first. But there was something else too, something in his tone that rankled.

“I’m sorry, I had to work. You act like I wanted to,” I said.

“Until 7:15?” he asked.

“Yeah, when I take a three-hour break in the middle of the day.”

When I came home he had roasted a mountain of vegetables: eggplant, okra, zucchini, peppers, cabbage. The jerk chicken he steamed turned out to be too fatty to eat that way. We saved in the freezer to make broth with later. We sat down to eat on the couch. “Thank you for making dinner,” I told him. He glowed.

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