I'm okay, you're okay. That there's where it's at.

I can't complain. 

I have heard that phrase uttered by countless people, countless times, and never really given it much weight. Until I realized, very recently, what it meant.

I have spent the majority of my teens and all of my adult life struggling, wanting, striving, fighting, trying, pushing and stressing. I have been moving toward something that I have not yet attained or obtained. It has been any combination of money, love, comfort, stability, community, and calm. And expectations – both my own and others’ of me.

I think we all do this.

I’ve searched for the job that is what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up. What I am. What I will be. What I am supposed to be. I strive for the apartment/house that is my home. Where I can drop anchor. I want my friends to be my forever friends, the friends like the friends from Friends, friends. I wonder if whichever guy that I’m with is the guy. Or will the next guy be him? I should really have a nest egg by now, right? Wait – am I financially stable? I’ve never known what that feels like, so I’m not sure. When am I allowed to stop – or at least pause – and inhale?

The answer for many of us in this country, in this time, is probably never. But, guess what? Very recently I stopped. I took inventory, as it were. I inhaled. You know what I realized? I’m okay. I love my friends. I love my house. My relationships with my family are solid. We are all healthy. I am inspired. I am creative. I have the-job-that-is-my-job-when-I-grow-up-job. And even though I don’t have a nest egg, I am financially stable. I’m comfortable.

I get it now. I can’t complain. Though I often do.

No, I’m not married with two point five kids in a big house and a droopy dog lounging on the front porch. No, I’m not even in a relationship. No, my life at thirty-six is not the one I thought I would have when I was a young girl. It’s also not the life my parents would have predicted for me. But, regardless, I have landed and I am here. Where is here? Right where I am.

I am not nearly done with struggling, wanting, striving, fighting, trying, pushing and stressing. I am still moving toward something that I have not yet attained or obtained. Otherwise life would be boring. But I am pleased with where I am, what I have and the trajectory of how it all came to pass.

This is what I have realized while the end of 2010 became the beginning of 2011. This is what I realized as I saw some things end and others either begin or grow bigger at the stroke of midnight last Friday. Ever since that moment I have enjoyed a relaxing week and I have felt calm.

Last night, while trying to cultivate a fabulous and ornate dish to usher in the new year with this post, I realized all I really wanted to eat was something healthy and simple. I wanted the dinner that the me in my alter life, the one that’s married, with two point five kids and a droopy dog lounging on the porch, would have for dinner. I wanted chicken, rice and a green veggie. Hell, I didn’t even have a glass of wine – just water. The meal was very good, if not decorated with truffles, fennel pollen or the like. And as I ate my dinner I thought to myself and smiled: I really can’t complain.

Happy New Year, and here’s to a beautiful and inspired 2011!

Vinegar-Braised Chicken with Garlic and Celery Leaves
(Recipe from Food & Wine November, 2010)

Serves 2

1 Tablespoon olive oil oil 
1 pound (2 breasts) skinless boneless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Celery leaves from 1 large bunch
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup red wine vinegar 
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley 

In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; add it to the pan in a single layer. Cook over high heat, turning once, until well browned, 8 minutes. 

Stir in the garlic and cook over moderate heat just until fragrant, 1 minute. Add most of the celery leaves and stir just until wilted, 30 seconds. Add the stock and vinegar and cook, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is reduced to a few tablespoons, 5 to 6 minutes. 

Add the parsley and the remaining celery leaves and serve over jasmine rice.

1 comment:

  1. how odd that i checked into your blog just when i was going through everything you listed. i feel inspired! everything is alright and i'm doing what i love and i love who i'm with and yeah. happy new year!