roasted fig, kale + chickpea salad and cauliflower coconut curry + a silent call to leave home

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Truth be told, I rarely re-read what I write here. I write for the rush of it, the joy of it–the words come from a compulsion to make sense of a situation, find clarity, and once that clarity has been found I move on. However, amidst all this food, amidst a stove that resembled a bonfire, I kept re-reading this post. And one of the questions I keep asking myself is this: Why am I still here? This isn’t a Montaigne why-do-we-exist ontological argument, rather, it’s why am I still in New York? Before you talk about a hoard of writers who never grew up in New York yet pen dreamy essays about leaving old New York, my story is less about a place and more about a desperate need to sit in discomfort. A need to lay down my head somewhere else in the world for an extended period of time–beyond travel.

This place is my home. I went to Fordham when I could have gone to Boston University or Brown. I went to Columbia when I could have applied to Iowa. I watched so many people I love move away, start new lives in different states and countries and it’s only now that I have a sense of longing. A realization that my home has become my barnacle, a place to which I’ve been unhealthily attached. My mother still lives here. My pop lives here. All my memories are tethered to this place, and I want new memories, new places. I posted something on Facebook and one of my very sage friends wrote this, which put my heart on pause:

Come up with an eccentric plan and give yourself to it. For example, resolve to live on every continent for 3 months to a year (okay, not Antarctica). Or live in a different country for a year for 5 years in a row. Or live on an island for a year. I’ve found that it’s very, very hard to will a change out of the swirling lights of one’s soul, but it’s easy to react to a change you believe has already been made for you. We move in a week if our employer makes us, but if it’s up to us, we’ll linger for five years making excuses and riding the wave of inertia. So find some way to externalize the impetus for the change, and then don’t question it. Just get it done. Pretend an employer is forcing you to move. Pretend anything. Oh, you could live in four states, each of which abuts a corner or edge of the US: say, Traverse City, Michigan; Bangor, Maine; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. You get the idea. You could also plan a book and live along some route that you would create art/photos/writing about. I am not thinking about money here, of course, so the daydreaming is easy. But I’d say daydream hard first, and you’ll figure out the money.

Last night I vacillated between this comment and my post, and I realized I keep asking questions that go unanswered because I’m afraid. It’s easy to talk about New York and how much I hate it, how much it’s gone to blight, overflowing with long-term tourists who call themselves New Yorkers. I lament that so much of the danger, art and energy I loved as a child has been whitewashed, excised. Everything feels pedestrian, done by rote, and the discomfort I feel is more akin to waking up to someone whom you thought you knew for the whole of your life to realize they’re actually a stranger. The discomfort I want is the feel of the new, the unsettling that comes from uprooting yourself and planting yourself somewhere else. I want quiet. I want land. I want solitude. I want slow. I want simple.

My god, I’ve lived a complicated, often difficult, life in a place that’s frenetic. I want to slow down and breathe.

So I’m following my friend’s advice and using the next 12 months to put my exit strategy into action. More details to come.

Now, my questions are when and how?

INGREDIENTS + DIRECTIONS FOR THE CHICKPEA SALAD: Pre-heat an oven to 400F. To a large roasting pan, add figs, quartered; handfuls of curly kale; 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained; salt/pepper/olive oil. Toss the figs, kale and chickpeas so they’re evenly coated in olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the kale is crispy and the chickpeas are browned.

INGREDIENTS + DIRECTIONS FOR THE CAULIFLOWER CURRY*: 2 tbsp coconut oil; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced; 1 large cauliflower head (1 lb) cut into florets; 2 tbsp curry powder; 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes; 1/4 tsp cinnamon; 1/8 tsp ground coriander; pinch of sea salt and coarse black pepper; 1 14oz can of full-fat coconut milk; 2 tbsp almond butter.

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the coconut oil and garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the bell pepper and cauliflower. Stir the vegetables to evenly coat them in garlic + oil.

Add all of the spices and toss to coat. Add the coconut milk and almond butter. Mix to incorporate.

Cover the pan and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is softened. Taste for seasoning + add more salt if needed.

*Recipe from The Paleo Kitchen.

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9 thoughts on “roasted fig, kale + chickpea salad and cauliflower coconut curry + a silent call to leave home

  1. I went to Columbia too (!) and have experienced that mixed feeling of loving New York and having that hometown pride for it … but needing to get away from the frenetic energy, even if temporarily. I’ve gone and come back and gone and come back …. trust me: it’s not going anywhere. If you go and decide to come back, you’ll return with newfound appreciation.

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    1. Caitlin- I completely agree. I had to laugh at myself the other night because I feared giving up such a coveted apartment in Brooklyn. I’m attached to a piece of real estate? Really? Does it give me enough joy to overshadow this disquiet?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So excited about your next step.

    I thought I would move overseas once I was retired. I was MISERABLE in Los Angeles and had lived there for ten years.

    I was working on location on a movie in Toronto. The shoot had wrapped after two months and we were getting ready to return to L.A. It was the first time I had lived and worked outside of L.A. since moving there.

    I was on the phone with my dad and he could hear the distress in my voice. Long story, short, he asked me why I was going back to L.A.? Why was I waiting to move to Italy? He said that I wasn’t living in Los Angeles, just existing. That was no way to live.

    I quit my job and moved to Rome. Best decision I ever made despite the struggles. I’m living. No longer a spectator.

    If you want to talk about moving, shoot me an email. We could talk on Skype.

    x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene,

      Your story, as always, never ceases to inspire me. I’ve given tremendous thought to living outside of the U.S.–from Barcelona to Melbourne, I’ve given this such thought over the past two years. Regrettably, it’s a nightmare because I don’t have citizenship, a husband in another country, and the animal quarantine laws are often bananas.

      However, I have been looking at a map of the U.S. (crazy, right)? I placed four dots in four areas in the west–places in which I would have never conceived of living, and thought: what if I lived for 3-4 months in each place. Spend a year in migration? There’s no hassle of embassies and paperwork and having my cat separated from me for up to two weeks.

      Anyway, I have an interesting idea in mind…and yes, I’d love to chat about it offline. I’ll shoot you a note.

      xo, f.

      P.S. And AHHHHHH. I just read this. http://www.wsj.com/articles/an-expat-writer-still-looking-for-home-1419451264

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  3. You might want to look at Carla Coulson’s blog. She has spoken a few times about not only her decision to leave her life in Australia to become a (successful) photographer in Europe but has broken the steps down on how she did it.

    I was one of those “lifer” NYC tourists that you mention until I fell in love and so the decision to move to France was made for me but I certainly don’t regret it. As Alrene mentioned above, the quality of life outside of New York can be just amazing, beyond what we could ever imagine. I am typing from a beautiful 18th century home in Provence with an olive tree and a vine-covered trellis in the courtyard that we rent for 800 Euros a month. That is not even $1000. The food is wonderful and affordable, the culture is off the charts.

    There are options. Sending good energy as you move forward into the unknown…

    Liked by 1 person

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