Time spent in the security of people I never have to tell my back story to.
I have been lucky in my life to build my social circle and make new friends that I will have from here on out. I want to be in one of those large groups of girlfriends with the red hats or purple blouses or green polyester slacks or whatever the current rage is. I love my new friends I have made in the past twenty years. They are enriching me and teaching me and there is a place for everyone, here with me forever and ever.
But there is something so different about the friends you made in the high school years that will give you an underpinning of familiarity forever. There's an odd safety net there because you knew them eons ago at such a pivotal point in your life. Yet the mark of those relationships is indelible. It makes no difference the amount of time that has passed since you last saw them. Weeks? Months? Decades? It simply won't matter.
It won't matter because they knew you when you were somewhere between six and seventeen. They knew you in your innocence. They knew your pure self. The self that was developing before you knew you were being judged.
They knew you before the back story.
Before any of life's crap changed you for the better or for the worse. Before you had to begin to build walls to protect yourself. Before you started on the journey of tearing down the walls you built to protect yourself.
Before marriages and divorces, before kids and political parties. Before much anticipated births and untimely deaths. Before financial yo-yoing and weight gains. Before creaky knees and blood pressure meds. Before you were pretentious or just plain worn out.
I always love being in their presence. I am wholly me. I don't have to explain my sense of humor, they get me. I kinda boss people around (I know, right! you're tilting your head with a curious look because that just doesn't sound like me). I scream with delight. Loudly. I say my peace and give my opinion. I know they won't run away. They have already accepted who I am... so many lifetimes ago.
It makes me remember who I was. Who I still am. Underneath it all.
I was a girl who hugged and held hands and laughed hard and ditched class. I could scream with excitement and run headlong down the hall to greet friends. Friends I hadn't seen since 2nd period English Lit.
I hung out with my girlfriends every day and every weekend. We actually had time for each other. Just absolute fun and bonding and hair braiding and giggling and drama. There was clothes swapping and sleepovers and falling asleep with cheese curls in your mouth, (that never happened to you?).
I was a bit wild. and a dancer. I had bone straight, dish water blonde hair that now looks red in all of the fading pictures. I had my own wonky style that went terribly terribly wrong sometimes. I was in awe of the drama department and the mysterious laid back cool guy in the quad. I ate donuts for lunch and skinny dipped with friends. Not in that order...
Or maybe it was.
Anything was possible then. The road was ahead. The viewpoint was yet to be established and optimism filled the day. What could go wrong? We were young and there was a party Friday night.
I absolutely love every minute of these memory lane get togethers, where the words are just like honey~ thick, sweet, golden, natural, and if you run them under warm water, they decrystallize and start flowing. Reminiscing about a bunch of adolescents hanging around - holding hands, squealing at stupid things and doing our very best to figure out what class we had together.
I always mean to take more pictures, but sometimes it's better to simply live a moment than to record it.
Can someone queue the music here? I think I hear angels singing.
It is our time to remember who we were.
Who we are. Underneath. Before the back story.
I feel like we will be together forever and that makes me very smiley.
I'm wishing you the same happiness.
Fresh Corn and Sweet Red Peppers with Sea Scallops
6 servings of rice, prepared either according to package directions or my mother’s method above
3 ears of yellow corn, about 2 ½ lbs total, husked, silks removed
1 ¼ pounds dry pack sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Smoked sweet Spanish paprika, also known as Pimenton
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 to 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled & minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus some whole leaves for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Prepare six servings of rice. When cooked, drain well, stir in a little butter to coat the rice kernels, cover and briefly set aside on the stove while you prepare the vegetables and scallops. Right before serving, spray 6 small ramekins with cooking spray and mound rice into the molds, packing well. Invert ramekins on the individual bowls that you plan to use for the vegetables and scallops, but do not unmold the rice yet. Let it sit in the ramekins while you prepare the vegetables and scallops.
Remove the corn from the cob with a sharp knife. I like to cut mine into a paper plate. Rinse scallops and pat dry, then sprinkle lightly with salt, freshly ground black pepper and smoked paprika.
Melt 1 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 10 to 12” nonstick skillet over high heat. Add corn kernels, bell peppers, garlic and cumin and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are crisp tender, about 3 minutes, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt the remaining butter and oil in another 10 to 12” nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook until scallops are browned on the outside and barely opaque in the center, turning once, about 4 to 5 minutes total, depending on their size. Take care not to overcook the scallops or they will be tough. When scallops are done to your liking, stir in the cilantro.
Just before serving, stir basil into the vegetable mixture and taste for seasonings. Spoon vegetables into wide, shallow individual bowls, gently remove ramekins off of the molded rice, then add the scallops and any pan juices and garnish with basil leaves.
Cook’s notes: I suggest doubling the recipe for the corn and peppers if you like a lot of vegetables and especially if are are going to serve more than 4 people. You could also substitute a small pasta, such as orzo, for the rice.