Many years ago, I had a friend who cooked the most wonderful chicken and noodles. Her broth was hearty. She used egg noodles; think and chewy. But the most wonderful touch to this otherwise very common dish, was that she added a touch of ginger to it.
She and her husband and I, have shared some very good times together. And over the years, those times around her kitchen table talking and laughing and savoring her chicken and noodles, stuck to my mind like glue. It is one of those memories that refuse to let go. And of course every time I think about them, or the moment just comes to me because I am sitting at a dinner table talking and having a good time, chicken and noodles cover my palate with undeniable pleasure.
We have played cards together, music, her husband played guitar, and to everyone's silent agony, I played the drums. To understand that statement you'll need to read a story I wrote called: My Left Foot, My Funny Bone. We played dominos, word games, things like that. Mostly, we shared a lot of good laughter.
I was at my local supermaket a couple of days ago, and while looking through the spices, a small bottle of 'ginger' jumped at me. It just came off the shelf and jumped on my face: "Take me, take me," it said to me in a small little voice. I held it in my hand and wondered, what can I use this ginger for? Suddenly, my friend came to mind, and I remembered one time when my dog had puppies, and I gave her one. I also kept one, which was not the smartest thing I ever did, but I liked the little thing -- well, I kept two of them. And I remembered she and I walking our puppies, and their mother. Sometimes we walked our own dogs, sometimes, we walked each other's dogs. And then it came to me that one day, after walking the dogs, a particularly cool day, she said:
"Would you like to come over for some chicken and noodles?"
"The ones you make with ginger?" I asked.
"Of course," she said, as if there was any other way of fixing chicken and noodles.
If I had stood at the spice aisle any longer, the managment at the supermarket might have had to charge me rent. So I took the ginger and went to the registrer to pay for my purchase. Oh! I also bought egg noodles. If fact I was so eager to go home and cook a batch of chicken and noodles a la nostalgia, that I almost forgot what I went to the store to purchase in the first place: COFFEE!!!!
Things happened at home and I couldn't fix my nostalgic dish for a couple of days. But I wanted it so badly, I could taste it. So today, I finally did it. I fixed myself a big, big pot of chicken and noodles with GINGER!
I couldn't wait for it to finish cooking. Finally it was done. Now, for the moment of truth.
It was absolutely... 'awful'. I don't know, maybe my taste buds changed, maybe I forgot to do something to it, or maybe what I really missed, was my friend, and the times around her kitchen table, and the music, my spastic drumming, and all that good laughter.
And all this makes me think that this is how stories get written. If we just start with the thing we remember, like chicken and noodles, we will end up writing about a friendship of 20 years ago.