Tomorrow at 10 a.m, I’m going into an oral surgeon’s office to have two wisdom teeth removed. Tonight, I make soup.
This is my first-ever surgery and admittedly, the thought of undergoing it while my nearest family member is 3,000 miles away from me has been giving me an uneasy feeling of nervous anxiety all day. It’s not so much that I’m worried about the procedure itself (they’re wisdom teeth, for god’s sake, and just about everyone gets them taken out at one point or another so I’m not about to be a baby about it—although not-so-secretly I’m a bit terrified). It’s more of a strange feeling I got a few days ago during my consultation when the surgeon said, “Well, you’ll probably be fine to get yourself home after the operation since we’re not putting you completely under, but if you do have someone who can be here, that’s even better. Now. Do you have a person who can accompany you?”
“Yes, of course,” I replied right away, because really, who wants to be the person without a person? And then I thought, who’s my person? And those three pesky little words haven’t left me alone since.
Don’t take things the wrong way; there is a slew of steadfast and loyal girlfriends I could call who would be there in a heartbeat, taking me home good-naturedly while I drooled on their shoulders (an unpleasant aftereffect of laughing gas, I’ve heard). And yes, I have one or two male buddies who would probably do the job as well. But as I ran through various much-loved faces and names in my head, I was alarmed to find that there wasn’t one particular person I wanted to ask that favor of. And that thought left me with an odd sensation of being…alone.
Since I’ve lived in New York, I’ve realized that this city makes you strong; it forces you to develop an almost-unwavering sense of independence. I don’t like to ask people for favors, I hate relying on the kindness of others, and most of all, I seem to be deathly afraid of putting myself out on an emotional limb. It’s an unfortunate side effect of having to fend for yourself here in so many ways.
But sometimes, I have to wonder: am I crossing the fine line between independence and alienation? If I can’t ask for help when I need it, am I unintentionally closing myself off from real relationships? And if I am, how do I “give up the gun” so to speak and learn to ‘fess up to the occasional bout of vulnerability?
I came home tonight with two shopping bags from Whole Foods overflowing with chocolate ice cream, Greek yogurt and honey, and all the ingredients for that mainstay of comfort: potage parmentier. I soaked my freshly bought leeks in cold water and started chopping the white ends into tiny little circular slivers, stinging tears welling up in my eyes from the oniony potency of the vegetable.
Potage parmentier, as Julia Child herself said, is “simplicity itself to make.” It’s comfort in a bowl, nourishing and filling and good. It’s bubbling away on my stove as I type this out, filling my little studio apartment with the melting smells of butter and sea salt and starchy potatoes, and I find myself beginning to feel a little more at ease, a tad more prepared for tomorrow’s diet of surgery, painkillers, and liquid foods.
So while I may not have all the answers right here and now, I think this will do for the moment. It’ll do while I figure it all out.
Classic Potage Parmentier
4-5 medium potatoes
3-4 large leeks
8 cups water
4 Tbsp softened butter
After slicing the leeks, soak them in a large bowl of water for a few minutes to remove the dirt and grit. Once you have thoroughly cleaned the leeks, place them in a large pot with the potatoes, water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 - 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Mash the vegetables thoroughly with the back of a fork.
Taste the soup for seasoning, adding more salt if needed. At this point, you can set aside the soup until you are ready to serve it. When ready to serve, reheat to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, small spoonfuls at a time.