To kick off the week, I had the honor of joining a group of lucky dinner guests at Ms. Sarah Fragoso’s house. Beautiful people were laughing and swapping exotic travel stories, the lady herself slaved over a hot stove to serve us about ten fantastic dishes from her new Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine cookbook… I made myself very small and unobtrusive in the corner, hiding my unshaven legs and drinking the Kirkland Signature wine we brought not realizing it was going to be a fancy party… I was really impressed by the food though—it was not white-girl-Thai or weird-diet-Thai, it was totally legit and absolutely delicious. It was like going to a great restaurant that used only the finest ingredients and served you the moment each dish was ready—spicy and savory and aromatic delights, one after another, for hours.
I mention this not [only] as a nudge to check out her truly wonderful book, or a way to brag about how socially awkward I am around fancy people; I mention it because something she told me added tinder to the little sparks that have been popping in my head ever since I read Emiliano’s piece on Bubbles Laundry a couple weeks ago.
I had asked about her trip to Thailand and how she got her recipes, whether she knew anyone or if her publisher had set up any contacts, and she told me they just showed up and started talking to people; getting cooking lessons and gathering family recipes, visiting organic farms, learning the philosophy and techniques that make the food what it is. The idea of doing that—immersing yourself in the experiences of strangers, listening to their stories, allowing new worlds to unfold around you as each encounter leads to another in a great stream of collective-consciousness…
Once upon a time I lived my life that way. Granted, I did it in a stupidly dangerous way: putting my life in the hands of any driver that would pull to the side of the highway, attaching myself to groups of questionably sane/questionably trustworthy people because the place they were going sounded fun or they had space in their car or they knew an abandoned house we could sleep in when it was really cold outside… There was definitely drama sometimes, but then other times there would be these miraculous experiences—people who came along right at the moment you needed them most, offering such pure and sincere kindness; coincidences that gave you a little shiver down your spine and made it seem like everything was actually happening for a reason; stunningly beautiful moments in nature that you never would’ve seen had you not been so directly exposed to the elements.
And that’s the thing: exposure. The vulnerability is what allows those profound emotions, those surprises, those big things to happen. Somewhere along the way I stopped waking up with that burning for adventure, stopped talking to strangers, stopped peeling back the veil that separates each moment from the moment it could be. Somehow I wound up making myself small and unobtrusive.