Thinking About Soup (In Memory of Gina DePalma)

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On New Year’s Day, I didn’t eat a salad, I didn’t hop on a treadmill, I didn’t write the annual letter to myself that I’ve been writing since I read about doing that in some magazine half a decade ago. This year, I grabbed the giant stock pot that sits on top of my oven and put it on the stove. Out of the freezer I pulled a bag of chicken backs that I cut off of chickens in 2015 and dumped them into the humongous vessel along with a whole onion, a whole carrot, a head of garlic cut in half, some bay leaves, peppercorns, and a handful of parsley leaves. I filled it all the way up with water (at least two gallons), turned the heat up to medium, waited for it all to come to a simmer, then turned it to low. Every so often, I’d skim, but for the next eight hours, I just let the chicken stock perk away.

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We Got Married (The Wedding Post)

I was never a wedding person. Growing up, I’d watch the wedding scene in The Sound of Music and fantasize about writing a great musical someday. The idea of walking down an aisle held very little appeal for me (even if there’d be nuns singing a slowed-down version of “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”) So when Craig and I got engaged almost two years ago at Rustic Canyon, I imagined us having a simple wedding at a nice restaurant somewhere. Maybe just our families and a few close friends at Blue Hill Stone Barns or The French Laundry; 12 to 15 people max. The only problem? My betrothed had a very different idea of what our wedding would be. “I want a big party,” he informed me soon after we told our families that we were getting married. “A big party with lots and lots of people!”

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Something Happened At Rustic Canyon

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On Thursday night, we were supposed to go to dinner with Craig’s former boss and the boss’s wife. A work dinner, so to speak. “7:30 at Pizzeria Mozza,” said Craig, earlier in the day.

Then, as 7:30 rolled around, Craig pulled me aside. “I told a white lie,” he said. “We’re not going out with (name redacted) and (name redacted). I’m taking you to Rustic Canyon.”

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Dinner at Rick and Chuck’s (A Memory)

The letter was in an envelope in my pocket, folded in half. Even though I knew this would produce a crease, I figured a crease was better than walking into my professor’s house holding a mysterious envelope, especially with three other classmates arriving with me. “What’s that letter?” they would probably ask and what would I say? Which is why the letter was in my pocket.

The house was handsome, made of brick, and shrouded by trees. I arrived early (as I tend to do) and sat in the car for a bit killing time rather than be the first to ring the doorbell. Did I bring a gift? I wouldn’t have brought wine because I wasn’t old enough to buy wine yet. It’s possible that I showed up empty-handed, except for the letter.

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