“And love is love is love is love,
no matter whom you’re thinking of,
so you can open all those doors that
someone closed so long ago,
cause you’re bolder when you say,
‘I am through, I am through’,
room for something to begin all anew”
-- “Horses” by Grand Hallway
I don’t know how to describe it, the way some smells stick with us. How there is a memory for them just underneath consciousness, bubbling and churning, wafting into the clearing. The way sometimes the memory doesn’t even have a narrative, but a feeling. A swelling in the chest that overtakes, like when you were six and too excited to wait for tomorrow’s big adventure. I don’t like to believe things happen for a reason. It always feels like a cop-out, as though my agency has somehow been removed when all I ever want is a semblance of control. And yet, this particular moment, with this particular smell, had such a profound impact, I can’t help but think it was sent to me.
Lindsey and I headed to a So Far Sounds show last Sunday at Flying Bike Brewery. They are little pop-up shows you sign up for in advance without knowledge of who will be playing or where the venue will be. If you get drawn from the sign-up list, you can show up for an intimate show of 30 odd people and local musicians who are sincere in their craft. This was the second time I had gone with Lindsey and like always, we were both just hoping for some songs to connect to.
And then suddenly, it was there. This smell of new carpet, a plastic-y manufactured type scent, mixed with a little bit of smoke and fire, and a touch of fresh laundry.
And I was a teenager again, staring at the ceiling of a tent and listening to a bonfire pop away in the distance on one of the first days of summer. I was 17, sitting on a blanket that had been in a linen closet for far too long, about to kiss a boy for the first time. I was driving away from high school graduation engulfed by a feeling that this life is mine, mine, mine. The possibility. The fresh starts.
In the moment, it felt like closure. The realization that no matter what happens in my life, I am here for it. That it is mine. That I will always make decisions for the person I want to be and that every bit of struggle is mine to hold. And so I write this in all sincerity, dear reader, with all of the earnestness that I can muster because it is entirely against the way I was taught to write:
I am living this life so that love can leave me ragged.
I will not say no or feel guilty for the love I let into my life, for the way we strive to connect with each other, for holding on too long, or for wanting to work together to make everything feel better.
We are larger than the sum of our strife.
This is it.
So leave me ragged.
I come to you with a simple and aromatic recipe. The type to throw together quickly on an exceptionally warm spring day when you want something light, but substantial. And also, because of the above story, the type of dish you may have forgotten about, but for which it is no less important:
Chicken Piccata with Radishes
Lightly Adapted from Food and Wine
2 bunches of radishes, cleaned and trimmed of greens
2 8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/3 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
4 T. butter
Juice of one lemon
1 T. chopped capers
1 T. chopped parsley
2 large handfuls of your favorite greens
Salt and pepper
In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 T. of olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add radishes, season with salt, and cook until just starting to soften on the outsides, 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool and wipe out skillet.
Halve the chicken breasts lengthwise, as though you are going to butterfly them, but cutting all the way through. You will have 4 pieces of chicken each between ¼ and ½ inch thick. Using a meat tenderizer, pound out any thick spots. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat 2 T. of oil in the non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add two chicken breast halves and cook until golden brown on all sides and cooked through (about 3 minutes per side). Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken. Once completed, wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
Heat 1 T. of olive oil in the skillet until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat until fragrant. Add the wine and reduce until almost evaporated, 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in butter, lemon juice, capers and parsley and simmer until slightly thickened. Season with salt and remove from heat.
On a big platter, spread out your greens and drizzle them with olive oil. Place the chicken on top of the greens. Cut the radishes in half and sprinkle them over the top. Spoon your sauce over the entire platter and serve.