I'm gonna miss you when I move out next month.
Remember when we first met eight years ago? I saw you during an open house. You were living where you live now, but back then it was the house that time forgot. It's a post war house that, at the time of the open house, had last been decorated, I'd guess, 40 years prior, whatever year it was that the color reigning supreme in the collective unconsciousness was brown. Brown wood paneling, brown shag carpeting, brown corduroy sofas. It was the Brady Bunch meets Sanford and Son. That decor scared off all potential buyers, an impressive feat during the height of the Dot Com boom years. Hell, even N and I ran screaming out the door during that open house. Then our visionary realtor splashed some ice water on our faces. "It's only cosmetic." Our cook's and teacher's salaries weren't going to score that remodeled Victorian on Potrero Hill. So we settled on your house, the runt of the litter, but in a great neighborhood. We were the only bidders.
I personally tore off all that paneling and worked with the realtor's husband to smooth the walls. I ripped up all the carpeting by myself, discovering beautiful untouched hardwood floors hiding beneath. Within a year, we replaced the shades of brown with sage, butter, lavender, and rose.
Remember how you looked back then, Kitchen? Tattered linoleum floors, metal cabinets with rusted doors, barely two feet of counter space, a wobbling ceiling fan with blades that threatened to decapitate, a mobile dishwasher with a hose that attached to the sink. Oh that sink! That improbably tiny sink. It could barely fit a pasta pot. How did she do it? How did that Italian mother feed her husband and two sons for 40 years from that space?
Throughout that first year of politely getting to know one another, I plotted like Henry Higgins how I'd transform you. I took your measurements. I drew countless sketches on graph paper of every possible layout. I met with kitchen designers for free consultations. I chatted with friends who had remodeled their kitchens to learn from their successes and mistakes. Whenever the new issue of Saveur arrived, I immediately turned to the photos of that month's featured kitchen. Then finally, after months of planning and construction, my visions magically took form. You became what you are today, a Pacific Heights/Upper East Side debutante. If you were a woman, you'd be beating back Gavin Newsome's advances at the office holiday party.
What I love most about you, Kitchen, is you're not only sexy, you're practical. I designed a place for everything within your cherry cabinets. Vertical slots hold cutting boards and sheet pans, deep drawers hold everything from cast iron pans to rolling pins, and cabinets above hold spices, tea, and my grandmother's china. A shallow pantry where the stove used to be holds my million jars of rices, flours, sugars, dried beans, and homemade jams. There's even a couple of shelves for my most dogeared cookbooks. Our friend poured 12 feet of concrete counters, 6 feet on each side of the fancy new range I bought for you, enough territory to keep several friends busy prepping at once. And your tiny original sink? It became my prep sink next to the fridge. The tall drawer I put beneath that sink holds the compost bin — another favorite feature. For the dishwashing area, I had a restaurant fabricator make you a huge stainless steel sink and place it next to the window, along with a real dishwasher. I have to say your design is one of my proudest accomplishments of that era of my life.
We've had some good times together, haven't we? The dinner parties and the brunches for my friends, and of course the countless breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for just N and me. But the times I loved best were those hours we spent together, just the two of us. How many hours have I whiled away perched on a stool at the butcher block table in the middle of the kitchen reading a cookbook or typing my blog posts on my laptop? How many meals have I eaten there? How many photos have I snapped in the perfect late afternoon light streaming through your window? Every recipe created on this blog was cooked within your walls. Nearly every dish I will prepare in my restaurant was first tested in your space.
How, I ask, would I have ever gotten through the death of my mother five years ago or, more poignantly, these challenging past four months without the sanctuary of your walls? When my heart was broken, you were my hearth. I found solace this summer taming your flames to saute corn and zucchini, stew fresh shell beans, slowly roast salmon, and bake summer pies and gallettes. You, who sprang from my mind and heart, provided me comfort and support when I needed it most. I doubt if I could have faced the prospect of cooking dinners for one without you.
A wise and dear friend of mine assures me I can and will create beautiful new kitchens in the future. And deep down I know she's right. I know that the kitchen in the new flat where I'm moving next month just needs a little love and attention to be functional. Plus, the reality is I'm going to be spending most of my time in the brand spanking new kitchen in that little restaurant I'm opening. So, please, don't feel sorry for me. I guess when it comes down to it I'm just feeling a little sentimental before moving on to the next phase of my life.
Thanks for all the wonderful times, Kitchen. You can't imagine how much I'm gonna miss you. Hope whoever buys the house will treat you well.