Getting to the Meat of Things.

I was recently in Chicago for a few days. My friend, Emma, was there for a business conference with her baby, Samuel, who happens to be precisely one week older than Emerson. Emma and I attended college together, which included a three-month 'co-op' in LA. She was a nanny in the Pacific Palisades. I, despite everyone's best efforts, could not get a paying job. So I crashed on the futon-couch-thing at Emma's friend's apartment in Brentwood – a stone's throw from where Nicole Brown Simpson had only just been murdered (the police tape was still up). I ended up working for free doing script coverages for Oliver Stone's production company, and was even an extra in Nixon. I played a sleeping hippie on the steps of the 'Lincoln Memorial' who was oh so rudely awakened when Nixon and whoever James Woods played walked past me. Regardless of being in so so shiny Heidi Fleiss-y LA in my early twenties, the intrigue of being in such close vicinity to the most humongous murder scene since Manson days and the seemingly cool Hollywoody-ness of the Oliver Stone/Nixon stuff, I was miserable. By the end of that Summer, I vowed never to return to the vapid cesspool commonly referred to as Los Angeles.

And then, as it happens, we went our own ways. About fifteen years passed, and wouldn't you know it, we found each other again. In... LA (come on, you knew that was coming). I'll never forget her sashaying (in my romantic memory, people sashay) up my walk of the Laurel Canyon house, in the middle of a Christmas party, with a bottle of sparkles and a gift bag (she's on the gift thing like no one I've ever known). We caught each other's eyes and exclaimed in unison, 'YOU LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME!”

And that was it. We have been thick as thieves ever since. We've travelled to France and Spain together. We laugh, we cry, we dish, we drink rosé, we get to the meat of ourselves, each other, the universe, we stay up until sunrise doing all of the above – or, at least, we used to until we each had babies. Oh, yes. Babies. I'll never forget sitting on that candlelit patio in the canyon, under the stars, the two of us talking endlessly about how we wanted to move back to the East Coast. And how we wanted to have kids. And then, a year or two later, wouldn't you know it, we're both back on the East Coast, she and Eddie in New York. Fred and I had just moved to Richmond and Emma and Eddie were coming to visit. A couple of days before they were set to arrive, I found out I was pregnant. Funny thing, through my excitement and elation, flashing back to those nights in the canyon, I was concerned about telling Emma. And then my phone dinged its text message ding. It was from Emma. It was a picture of an ultrasound. And wouldn't you know it, she was pregnant.

So their visit was an especially special one - filled with excitement, fear and wonderment. And, at her baby shower in New York, months later, after all of the folks left and their home was quiet, a very pregnant both of us sat in (one of our very few) quiet reflections. From two eighteen year-olds borrowing each other's shoes (actually, it was just me borrowing her shoes) at a liberal arts college in Ohio, and that Summer in LA at twenty-one, to stumbling across one another again fifteen years later and experiencing all of our thirty-something funs, fears, lights and darknesses – and countless glasses of wine – to two grown ups who found our forever loves, about to have babies.

And, as I mentioned above, Emerson and Samuel were born one week to the day apart.

Up until two weeks ago they had not met. So, when Emma mentioned she was in a child care pickle for her business trip, of course I was going to take Emerson and go to Chicago. Our first night together, the four of us, Emerson and Samuel played until they fell asleep. Afterward, Emma and I ordered room service and sat by the window, looking out at the sun setting over downtown Chicago. Over a couple glasses of wine (but not too much, of course) and, in hushed voices so as not to wake the babies, we laughed, and cried, and dished - got right back to the meat of things. And then we went directly to sleep around midnight.

The next day the four of us walked around Millennium Park with the babies in a double wide, twinsies stroller, took pictures of US, had a couple of fantastic sandwiches, and gave the babies a bath together (those bath pictures will be great collateral during their tween years).

After that – because of her work - I didn't see much of Emma. Or Chicago, for that matter. Another college friend of mine, Frampy, lives in the Chicago area and took the train in to visit and help me out (Frampy is another great story for another great blog post). With him I walked the babies in their double wide. And walked. And walked. Around the warm room with the indoor pool, up and down the halls of the hotel, back and forth through the hotel lobby, in and out of the club lounge. And after I finally got both of the babies to sleep, Frampy went to get us a deep dish pizza from 'one of his top three spots'. As we sat on the floor of the dimly lit hotel room, again in whispers, sipping red wine and eating classic Chicago deep dish pie, Frampy asked me what my oldest memory was.

Interestingly, I wasn't sure – and I'm still not. I mean, I have these snapshots, these stills, that I think are memories. But I'm pretty sure those are actual snapshots, from actual photographs, that have stories attached to them, that have become my memories. Which is certainly valid. So, really, I'm not sure. But I it did cause me to pull a quirky memory out of the bank: I remember in pre-school, sitting in a little lunchroom-y thing with fruit cocktail. A boy named Blue Birdsong was crying. The news had just broken that Ronald Reagan had been shot. I just remember being very confused. I'm still confused, actually, about why I recalled that memory, why Blue Birdsong was crying (I mean, his name is Blue Birdsong, for crying out loud – he couldn't have been from a Republican family, right?), and why my preschool was airing hard hitting breaking news to tiny children in 1981.

Funny. Not to be trite, but our memories of the past, and the promise of tomorrow, are all we've got. The Now is so fleeting it's already passed. And although that trip to Chicago was not the easiest thing I (and probably Emma) have ever done, Samuel and Emerson had so much fun, so much stimulation, it meant so, so much to me (and let's not forget Frampy). But most of all, Emma and I created important memories, both for ourselves and for our children. We even have the snapshots, both real and to be re-imagined, to prove it.

Steak for Two
Perfect for laughing, crying and dishing at a perpetual Wine O'Clock

1 ½ thick bone-in porterhouse steak
½ cup Kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Season one side of steak liberally with salt and pepper let rest for 45 minutes – until liquid comes up from, and becomes reabsorbed into, the meat. Flip the steak and repeat seasoning process. Total salting time is approximately 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat grill to high heat.

Mix the brown sugar, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper together to create the rub and pack firmly onto one side of the steak.

Place the steak rub-side-up on to the grill and cook over direct hight heat for 4-6 minutes per side (depending on how hot your grill gets), or until a luscious medium-rare: 130°F to 135°F.

Let rest for 15 minutes, slice and serve.

Two years ago: Dulce de Leche Ice Cream


  1. Beautifully written and photographed! It's interesting to think of the memories we recall from our early childhoods. I have one of chanting, "Clinton! Clinton!" while some kids shouted, "Bush! Bush!" in a schoolyard at a Catholic school I attended in Decatur, Georgia. So, so random. Thank you for sharing your recent memories of your trip in Chicago. It sounds like it was a very important experience to you, your friend, and your children. And I want that steak. Must it be for two?

    1. Thank you, Sonja!
      A) I didn't know you're from Decatur! I lived there for a while after college - and then in ATL for about 6 or 7 years!
      B) The steak can also be YOURS ALL YOURS!