Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The start of my "culmination" phase?

My can opener is 20 years old. I'm preparing to move and realized, as I opened a can of tomato sauce for my favorite quickie dinner recipe, that I would not need the beloved manual crank can opener at my new place.

I held the can opener in my hand and remembered that it was one of my "going away to college" purchases, bought in the good 'ol days before soup and ravioli came with pop tops. Nearly every can I've ever opened in my adult life was opened with that can opener. My muscles intuitively know the feel of the rubberized handle, which fits perfectly inside my right palm. My eyes know to look for the slate blue handle before I even know what I'm looking for in the gadget drawer where the can opener resides when not in use.

I have moved fifteen times since I was 18 - beginning with that first trip to Washington, DC where I set up my first dorm room. Every time I've moved I've taken that can opener with me. Every time.

And this time I'm not.

Transitions are funny. They stir up such interesting and unexpected emotions. For me, today, I'm reminiscing on an adulthood spent with one can opener, and what it means to let it go. It is more than a utilitarian object today. It represents a step away from the "novice period" of early adulthood (a stage usually over by 33 - I'm a late bloomer). And moving away from novice adulthood means moving into the "culminating phase" of early adulthood which "brings to fruition the efforts of the era". (Middle adulthood ostensibly starts with the same process in one's 40s.)

Does moving in with BMG, away from the City and into the southern, oceanside suburbs represent a culmination of something? I've been talking with a friend about my on-going struggle to find peace in my identity outside of my roles as "employee", "girlfriend", "sister", and "daughter". I'm still sorting out this move and its meaning for me - beyond the obvious - fun with boyfriend, longer commute, less expensive rent, fewer great restaurants within walking distance, more physical and psychological distance from the office. What does it mean for the evolution of my interior life, of my spiritual self, of my psyche? Most of this will emerge over time as BMG and I take our steps towards a stronger and more permanent partnership. In the meantime, I am grateful to have words to frame the experience of holding a can opener in my hand and wondering why it feels so very important.

I'm going to turn back to my dinner now, which is a sort of pasta puttanesca that can be made in about 15 minutes. Here is the recipe.

Cook your preferred amount of pasta - preferably something with ridges that can hold a loaded tomato sauce. Consider cooking frozen peas with the pasta (peas and penne both take about 8 minutes to cook) to add another veggie to the meal.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a wide bottom pan.
Brown up to 7 oz. of Gimme Lean (meat substitute) sausage "flavor". If you need more oil, toss in fat free chicken or veggie broth instead.
Add sliced mushrooms, sliced onions and/or finely chopped spinach as you desire.
When "meat" is browned and veggies 1/2 way cooked, toss in one 4 oz can of plain tomato sauce (NOT pasta sauce, not canned tomatoes, not fresh tomatoes)
Make sure all of the faux meat and veggies are coated with the tomato sauce.
Then stir in 1-2 tbsp of soft goat cheese to make the sauce creamy.
Add a handful of capers or anchovy paste, fresh ground pepper and fresh crushed garlic (this can also be added at the saute phase for a lighter touch).
Toss with pasta and enjoy!

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