I leaned back on the couch and put my feet up on the coffee table. “oh, he was just too young,” I said to my friend at a party one night. But that was not the whole truth. The truth was that he didn’t seem to know he was young. He did not know what maturity really looks like. He did not know his real age because he had no real perspective.
“All men are young, sweetheart.” She said, tongue in cheek.
“He was 27.” Her nose crinkled just a little as she looked at me over her wine glass. “He said he thought his friends were the first Indian couple to hike up to Camp Muir,” I admitted, embarrassed. They all started laughing like cackling hens, even the men, even the middle-schoolers. Somehow I felt both relieved and sad. I knew they understood what he was missing. I suppose this is what happens to people like him who grow up in a place with, what I like to call, age segregation. They have no experience of the others that have gone before them. They have no opportunity to experience youth again through older eyes.
Olympia has this strange culture which has a decided lack of age segregation. I am not an exception when it comes to that. I’m more like the poster-child. When I was twenty, of my friends in the Ballet company one was 16 and the other was 45. I went off to Europe to visit Lawrence and spent the best times at the seaside with her students and at dinners with her grandmother. In Oly there were always dinner parties at Jack and Mary’s house or the Ballet with Sandra and Bob, who are old enough to be my parent. Drinks with Chau and Brittni who are almost young enough to be my daughters. This week I’ll be cooking dinner with Ethan who is 20, doing homework with Sharanya who is 14 years my junior and having coffee with Dan to talk about his retirement dilemmas. One of my very close friends is almost 30 and a bit of a victim of age segregation himself. There are times when I wish I could pull him out of his protected platonic cave and show him the real forms of youth and maturity instead of just the shadows of it that he often mistakes for reality.
I’ve never really understood all this bullshit rhetoric about being “in different places” in your lives based on age. Who cares? Why do people emphasize this? What about understanding the different places that your life has been and might go, through the beautiful participation in the lives of others no matter the place they are in? What about walking beside someone as they grow, having the privilege of walking the circles and paths of life many times over in different pairs of shoes?
One thing I think my man, Jamie Oliver, has hit on is that this chronic age segregation has lead to a generation of people who don’t know how to cook. They have never spent enough time in the kitchen with someone who knows how. Luckily, Olympia also has a great food culture. People take their home cooking seriously here and social events revolve around the table more often than not.
If you are not a stellar cook, call your mother or your friends and go cook with them. If you can’t show your children how to make a few dishes take them to cooking classes – they might be able to teach you a little something when they are done. I’ve taken my son to two classes at the Petit Academy at the Bayview School of Cooking. I would highly recommend them:
Here’s what Kai and I made last night for dinner –
STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS FOR ALL AGES
Boneless chicken breasts
1 Miso soup packet
2 tablespoons sugar
Start with the Miso. The packaged stuff from any Asian story will work just fine. Set aside about 1/4 cup and put the rest in a baking dish, add the sugar and drop your chicken in to marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator. If you can let it marinate all day in there, that is even better. In the mean time, put your saved Miso and some brown sugar in a sauce pan and reduce it down a bit. Stuff your chicken with the spinach, ricotta, dates, garlic and taste with a little salt and pepper. Baste the top of your chicken with the Miso reduction and bake it at 350 degrees until the chicken is cooked through. This will depend on the size, using a thermometer is generally the best way to tell.
This recipe is for cooks ages 6 and up. Although, you can eat it no matter what age you are, as long as you can chew.