Sometimes life is so good, it feels like sadness. I mean that when you have so much to be grateful for, it feels huge, like it would be impossible to give back everything that you’ve been given, but you hope that you can get close.
I’ve thought about things that have happened recently. Things in the news that spur thoughts closer to home.
Like a trip I took a trip to Busan to visit my friend, Paulina, recently. She made the most incredible omelet for breakfast, cooked in coconut oil and filled with garlicky greens. The next day, she cut up apples and folded them into a Polish pancake batter. It rained for two days straight. It was such a great weekend. We didn’t know each other that well before that weekend, but at the end of it, I felt like we did.
Kathryn is packing up to leave this weekend, back to her family and friends in Canada. We’ve had quite the year together, and I can’t begin to fathom it without her. She’s been a rock, an agent of change, and an amazing friend.
I thought about the end of a relationship, the one that began so quickly and intensely last October. It took longer to end than it did to begin, and now, we feel like strangers. Again, I can’t imagine my time here without knowing him, and though the decision to be grateful about the encounter usually feels better in the end, sometimes I can’t wrap my head around the circumstance. One day I might be brave enough to tell the story, but right now, the really crucial details involve his own life story, and that is his to tell, not mine. The solution here is clear. I loved and lost. And now it’s time to let it fly.
My good friend Mary Jo is visiting this weekend. She and I have been traveling together for years, and we’ve been friends since middle school. I can’t wait to get into some semi-responsible trouble with her. Whatever that means. When Mary Jo is around, you’re bound to have a good time. What an amazing reputation to possess.
I’ve been thinking about my mom. She would have turned 60 this week. I wrote her a letter, and in it, I asked her a lot of questions. I also told her things I’d think a mother would want to know about a child she hasn’t seen in awhile. I wrote it, and sobbed publicly over coffee, and felt weepy and cleansed all at once. No one around seemed to mind. Don’t be alarmed, though. I don’t intend to make a habit out of crying in cafes. But just think of how much more humorous something is when you’re not supposed to laugh. How your sides ache from trying to hold it all in. I think it must be like that with other emotions, too.
Thanks to Paulina, and to Kathryn for positive taste-testing feedback, we now have a recipe for a kimchi omelet. Let’s call it the Omelet of Patience, since it took the stuff that patience is made of: timing, trial and error, and other human beings.
The bread and butter of this recipe is, as one might guess, the kimchi. For that, it’s gotta be good kimchi. I use a wickedly spicy and sour version of an age-old recipe from a friend’s family. She gives me a big plastic container filled with it, and it takes our apartment about two months to use it all. When it’s gone, she refills the container. (I mean, really. Besides being a mentor and a friend, she’s also a magical kimchi fairy. Big ups to Helen, too).
I fry the kimchi in oil and add sugar to tame the acidity. Do the same, but use your discretion with the sugar. If you like the taste of your kimchi, you might not need it. But the sugar does something special, deepens the flavor as it mellows it, and it’s a step I don’t ever leave out.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry 1/4 cup of kimchi until its edges are caramelized. Meanwhile, crack 2 eggs in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of water (or don’t. This step is up to you). Whisk. Cube cold butter and mix into the egg. Melt more butter in a 10-inch frying pan, coating every inch that the egg will touch. Pour in the egg and cook it over low, low heat. Tricks Paulina taught me: keep the heat the lowest your stove will allow, use two eggs per omelet, and gently push the uncooked egg at the top out towards the sides as the bottom sets. This will ensure that the top will cook evenly. When it does, spoon the kimchi onto the top half of the omelet. Top it with torn pieces of baby gouda, or another soft and smooth cheese, fold the bottom over so that the edges meet, and cover the pan off the heat to let the cheese melt.