Years ago, a year or so after Eliza was born, Dan and I decided we could use a little more support in our communication skills (with each other), so we started seeing a wonderful woman every few weeks who helped us talk again. One of the things she introduced us to was the idea of love languages - how everyone feels loved and cared for in different ways, and it is helpful to know in what ways your loved ones receive love best. Between the two of us we usually forget one of the five main languages, but I'll give it a try: acts of service, gifts, words of appreciation (or affirmation?), quality time...oh shoot. Really, now. Oh yes, physical affection. The idea is that everyone responds to a couple of these languages more strongly than the others. It has recently occurred to me (I am kind of slow on these things) that there is a sixth love language operating in our house - the love language of food. And no, I am not (unfortunately) talking about the slow seduction of ripping apart an artichoke and dipping it in butter before feeding it to your lover. I am talking about the drive that takes over when I am feeling like there is nothing practical that I can do to help Dan thrive in graduate school - I can proof-read, but not offer very insightful feedback, and I can't very well do any of his reading for him (my head hurts just thinking about it) - but I can make him lunch, cook him a good dinner, and make the occasional granola bars. I can hard-boil eggs for his walk to school, make sure we don't run out of coffee and half-and-half, and once in a while surprise him by splurging on beer. I am apparently passing along this trait to my daughters (talk about modeling traditional roles here. oh well.), as they have begun making Dan delicious sandwiches for him to take: usually mustard, sharp cheddar, and apple slices (This sandwich makes me drool. Serve it to me with a cup of coffee and I am in heaven. I am a simple woman.), and today Eliza also made him her latest discovery - nori rolls.
This drive extends to the way I feel when I am able to provide food for someone who needs it in some physical or psychological way, like a friend who is going through a hard time. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of the meal a new friend here brought when she learned that we all had the flu. The love is in the sharing, for certain, but it is also in the sharing with someone who likes food. I am sometimes at a loss with my husband who likes food, but is unwilling to give it any brain space or time. He appreciates a good meal, but is reluctant to indulge me with brainstorming hours ahead of time.
There is a definite void in my life right now. I deeply miss some soul sisters in Richmond who speak the love language of food, with whom I would cook, talk, cry, eat, share, create, laugh...I can send emails, write letters, even talk to them on the phone while cooking something we've eaten together, but it isn't quite the same. Our friendships were punctuated by recipes, picnic lunches, and the ultimate - the monthly potlucks where we wove our food magic around entire families. I am slowly building a friendship with a woman here, but it is not the passionate love affair of the ambrosia-homemade tortillas-granola bar-green olives on pizza-and-Superstar sandwich whirlwind that I long for. It is fried tofu and noodles in peanut sauce. Bake sale muffins. It is good intentions and good company, but lots of distractions. It might be that it is a friendship that will deepen over time, as our tastes emerge and our children grow. I took it as a good sign that today...she offered to save me a piece of homemade apple pie.