Cooking Artichokes

Creative Writing | Poetry

Cooking Artichokes

THIS is the time when it seems we will always be young, our twenties stretching both behind and ahead.

This is the time when time is ours to waste or enjoy or forget. This is the time when life feels gorgeously free, when we dedicate whole Saturdays to craft coffee and abstract art, or summer evenings to Shakespeare in the Park.

This is the time before we have to care for children (or adults) in nappies; when ‘How do you take a baby to a restaurant?’ is an academic question.

This is the time when we feel Edward Hopper-alone in the big city, in that wide span of our middle-twenties; this is the time we’re waiting for acquaintainceships to lose their liquidity and solidify into friendship.

This is the time we make friends with people named Olivia, Cordelia, Ambrose, from Dublin, Montreal, New York.

This is the time we are shouldering the rock of our doctoral work, Sisyphean-like, punished for believing academia was a mountain we were fit to climb.

This is the time we are taking on our first proper jobs, under-rehearsed actors, blinking beneath the bright lights; when the insistent glare of twenty or thirty students fills the seminar room, faces of vague expectancy tilted towards us. ‘Madame, Madame !’ (Who’s Madame?) ‘Madame, j’ai pas compris!’

This is the time we spend reading doorstops about twentieth-century China, or attend group Reading Marathons of Ulysses because nobody but us has any claims on our leisure.

This is the time when it is hard to feel resentful of our parents’ generation, even though the papers tell us we should. This is the time when, so long as we have books, nothing else entirely matters.

This is the time we fall in love with men because they smoke French cigarettes as elegantly as they reference Kant, because they say their favourite author is Tolstoy, or just because they are Jewish.

This is the time we are wondering whether the most important thing is to have Lots of Things to Talk About or whether nothing matters, so long as he makes you laugh. (Or even whether, as Updike’s Rabbit said, just about anyone will do.)

This is the time we change addresses every three months, moving up and down around the city, from shoebox-sized studios, to sub-lets with strangers, to Living With a Boy. With The Boy?

This is the time people start to say we are entering a darker world. This is the time when reading The Diary of a Nobody ensconced in a duvet or being shot while eating Cambodian food are equally possible on a Friday night.

This is the time we begin spending polite Saturday nights with our boyfriends’ mothers and brothers, and Sunday afternoons filling our monochrome flats with Swedish furniture and plants.

This is the time we can comfortably admit to relishing walking holidays in Scotland, yet with a smidge of shame have to confess we don’t know the correct way to cook an artichoke.

We still have time.


Photograph by Elise Matich