It's 3:34 a.m. on Friday morning. I was in bed. I got up to write this.
It's about friendship.
For over two weeks, I worked almost daily on a today piece about a feature story I wrote years ago. Wrestling with how to explore historic disappointment and put something to rest with a scattering of grace.
The writing was strong, but still, I felt unsure. Those are the right conditions to send it to Jay — poet, cyclist, father, husband, entrepreneur, ally, and all-around brilliant friend. A former Stratford Chef School student from light years ago. He wrote a beautiful essay I read as the Gastronomy teaching assistant. It was a relief. That was the year Kitchen Confidential was released. I thought I'd lose my mind.
I give Jay lots of space. No pressure to respond. Because what comes back…well, you'll see.
I had two questions (I edited his responses for length):
Does this have enough humility in it?
"Yes, but also a soupçon of righteous indignation as a counterpoint and I love it. I read it as managing disappointment and holding onto optimism. There's humility but also pride in equal measure in your writing, and it's a nice balance."
Does it read like I'm polishing old resentments?
"Again, yes, sounds like there's some polishing going on but that's ok. Today pieces are these intimate little essay sketches and don't necessarily have to be fully fleshed out or super slick. It's all about the process. People will appreciate and learn from your life experiences."
I sat for a couple of hours with his thoughts.
I called my mom and read his answers to her. She'd read my piece, too. I went to bed. Lying in the dark, this whole thing came to me.
I cried. About it all. About everything lately.
Made my mind up to print the story I sent to Jay at the library. I'll bring it home and set it on fire. Collect the ashes in a jar.
I knew that I was free and I knew that freedom was just like it says in the speeches. It's worth whatever you have to pay to get it.
The Passenger, Cormac McCarthy
A little further on in his email, Jay wrote,
"Here's my favourite song at the moment mostly about humility/pride, contradictions, about creation and destruction, about above and below."
He also sent me a long interview with the poet Jane Hirshfield. To shift my perspective. As green as the promise of spring.
Some students came to teach me.
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