How to Leave in 24 Hours

Packing for L.A.


On the way to Santa Fe you get a phone call. It's for your husband. You overhear snippets and wait patiently. There is interest in another script. Real interest. 

Driving talk turns on a dime from the grocery list (where you just added butternut squash in bumpy cursive) to the wisdom vs. craziness of dropping the day's plans and booking a flight to LAX. 

You sit quietly in the hot car, squinting at the blur of sunbaked sage along the highway while your husband thinks it over (and inside you are jumping like a kindergarten inmate, yelling, Why not? Let's go! This is everything you've dreamed of- script meetings, casting conversations- but, really, it's his call).

You do your best to embody Zen detachment.

What do you think? he turns and asks. 

You just smile. He knows what you think. You've been bitching about being under-stimulated for weeks, getting all gloomy again. There are more phone calls. Then suddenly it's a go.

You're leaving in twenty-four hours.

You start picking through dirty jeans and shirts. Distracted by the early morning slant of sun warming the tumbleweeds, you leave the laundry to grab a camera. Five minutes later you notice the bowl of ripe tomatoes on the blue tiled counter. You can't just leave those. So you wash them gently, slice and toss them into a roasting pan with olive oil, herbs and cloves of garlic. You add a splash of balsamic vinegar.

You slide the pan into a low-heat oven.

Tomatoes for slow roasting
Tomatoes ready for roasting.

The house starts to smell like an Italian villa. You fold and iron and fold. You plug in your iPod Shuffle and choose 250 songs (no Sting). You think about Santa Monica and the last time you saw your son, Colin. You add some of his songs to your mix. Then you notice the roses you photographed this week (they have seen better days). You empty the pitcher. You get distracted by the beauty of the dead petals and dried leaves against the white garbage bag. You grab your camera.

Dead Roses by Karina Allrich
Still life with garbage.

You air out the luggage that has been in storage since May- sliding it into the bright afternoon sun (you'll have to tip it sideways later to scoot a frantic lizard back to his usual vertical perch on the adobe wall). You wonder if the tomatoes are done. It's been two hours. Or more. You peek into the oven and inhale the slow roasted garlicky dense tomato scent.

You try not to panic about what the heck you'll eat for the next week (staying at the one hotel where you could get a last minute reservation in your price range- there's no kitchenette, no microwave). You imagine bags of chips and jarred salsa dinners. You hope Real Food Daily will have choices that are gluten, onion, bean- blah blah blah- free.

But you don't really care.

Somehow it will all work out. Or maybe you're just deep in denial, you think to yourself. You breathe.

Then there's the last bit of autumn roasted green chile to think about. And half a bag of small gold potatoes. One big mother of a sweet potato. And one lonely uncooked organic burger. Might as well make a green chile stew before you hit the road.

So you heat some olive oil in a pot, toss in some chopped onion, garlic, and crumbled beef, and sprinkle said ingredients with cumin and chili powder and stir until browned, humming a K T Tunstall tune. You throw in cut up gold and sweet potatoes and the last of the chopped roasted green chile. You stir up some organic beef broth and pour it in. A dash of agave. You let the stew do its stew-y thing while you contemplate which pair of sneakers to wear on the plane- Rocket Dogs or Skechers? Tough call.

You'll decide later.

There are toothbrushes and socks to be packed. But first, a glass of white table wine. Then a bowl of green chile stew.

This is the part of the movie, you think, when she looks at her husband sitting by the window, back lit by sweet light, and your chest aches in recognition. You see, the thing is, you always knew it. In your heart you just knew. Those movies everyone told you were fantasy? The on-screen or off-screen marriages that crackled with mutual admiration and no bullshit and you pined for that while those closest to you clucked in favor of sticking with your marital misery because - and I quote- No relationship is perfect and every marriage takes work?

Then why, Dear Reader- this time around, after twelve easy years- does it just keep getting easier? And life just gets more interesting? It's all about the risk.

And trusting your gut.

Whether it's making up a soup or reevaluating your career choice, or facing down familial opposition and sexual inertia because you actually believe in true love- it comes down to this. 

You have this minute. 

This second.


What are you going to do with it?

xox Karina


Lynn Barry said...

AMEN SISTER! YOU and that lover of yours ROCK! HAVE fun...babycakes! HUGS

DDS said...

Go with the flow, this is your time to reap the rewards of your cleve with your love so dearly close by. Don't hesitate, just do it. Be happy....

Kleja said...

Good post!
It's about choices right - that's what makes life so interesting.
I love that you took a picture of the roses in the garbage.

Leslita said...

Your post made me all weepy. After 4.5 years of easy, I keep waiting for the all-too-familiar hard work but like you said, things just keep getting easier. I think a lot of it is luck but a lot is the ability to celebrate the good with a big huge clanging parade in your head every single day and ignore the not so good but unimportant completely. This is much easier if you've gone through a lot of hard work with someone else in the past, so I think we also have to celebrate those experiences, as unpleasant as they were.
Thanks for all the great food blogging. I really enjoy your freestyle approach to cooking!

Kalyn said...

Great post! Hope everything is wonderful in L.A.

SteamyKitchen said...

Have a wonderful adventure!!! said...

Wow! Can't wait to hear the details.
I'm so happy that you are happy! It's nice to hear that a real life happy couple exists once and awhile. People at work complain about their relationships all the time or make demeaning remarks about them and I always think it's so weird since I don't relate at all. John and I were just talking about that this weekend. In fact, the Sting episode sparked some interesting conversations at work! Most men were very defensive of him. Blech. Glad I'm not with someone like that.

Slacker Mom (aka Mrs. GF) said...

Have a great time..I am too busy wiping the drool of my mouth over the thought of that soup to actually write/think of anything else.

That looks amazing. YUM!

You have a great time, and food will fall into place, it has to, you will find a way to eat.

I'll be excited to hear what happens!

Dana said...

Have a happy trip! And don't worry, there's plenty of gluten-free places to eat around where you're going... plus, don't forget Whole Foods and all the vegan restaurants around here!!!

CeliacChick said...

Hey Toots,

It's me again! :) I made the stew tonight- it looked so good. Of course I did my own variation...cuz that's what it's all about,eh? Let's just say it tasted perfect with my last glass of pinot noir.

LP Vintage said...

You've said it all and cooked it all and photographed it all just perfectly - again! Im sitting here in awe and nodding my head. You go girl!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that your blog makes me happy. It is a joy to read and look at. I especially love the photos of your kitchen and southwest landscape. I have never been there so I can visit vicariously. I suspect I have celiac and have been semi diagnosed by a crazy doctor.. So I am trying to go back and read more carefully. Your photos are beautiful and you are a talented person. Thank you for posting your emotions and all the yummy food. Enjoy your trip!


Anonymous said...

This stew recipe and this post both keepers.
I felt like you were speaking directly to me!

Congratulations on the the script and the trip- enjoy yourselves!

Jessica said...

You and Steve remind me that not everyone is doing something they hate - joining the rat race. You inspire me. :)

Meet you in LA soon!

Post a Comment

Gluten-Free Goddess eBook on iTunes