Tag Archives: dinner

sitting with friends of friends and friends


The world becomes small like a teak table in the backyard garden or the kitchen table with whiskey and ice remains taunting from the bottom of short, stocky glasses. 

The world too becomes expansive like the universe or the waters pushing friends over time zones, or the silence waging war on words desperately needing to be spoken, heard.

Sitting with friends of friends and friends over odds and ends, over last sips of whiskey and belly laughter, possibilities seem reachable and hopes seem connected and frustrations seem reasonable and injustices seem harrowing. 

But it is now shared. 

Shared among strangers strangely connected by that which we do our best sometimes to believe and our best other times to run like hell from. 

That thin and thick moment, then, the world is so small and so expansive and strangers make confidants, and space feels like home no matter where feet have landed. And life pounds maddeningly worthwhile and heartbreaking all in one sharp, softening, shared moment with friends.

One more tiny drink gets poured for everyone.

djordan

Belfast and Banbury

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crossing the street to find your way home | thoughts on “the hundred-foot journey”

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Our greatest fear, of course, is that we might be viewed as in some way similar to the “them” to our “us”. We’ve worked desperately for centuries now at defining clearly and bloodily who we are with and with whom we are not. Who we are like and who we are not like. And when the “us” and “them” becomes less theoretical and more the new next-door neighbor, less conversation and more colleague, less hypothetical and more here-and-now, we find our heart-pounding pulse and back-of-the-neck skin overrun with the fast-beating terror that there is no longer enough space between us and them.

In terror and anxiety, thus in our most not-yet moments, we move on anxieties and insist certain actions that involve thinking, moving and working in ways which keep the lines clear, humans separated, and enemies inhumane are needed. We have to keep the peace by keeping the road as clear barrier between our home and theirs, and the hundred-foot journey in between.  

But once in a while, perhaps because we have a kind of holy blood in us because we are human, we can’t help ourselves. We cross the street, take one-hundred steps, (counted in fury and scheming at one point and now counted in calm humility and prayerfulness), and appear at the front door of the other, the non-separate, the human beings across the street. The front door of his home, bearing witness to his family and their dreams, their hopes, their stories, their legacies, their fears, their burdens and their dirty spots. We appear at the front door, newly-terrified and deeply-anxious, but already too far across the street, already there, already one-hundred steps too many in to turn around.

So we meet our neighbors. We learn their names. We hear their stories. We sing their songs. We sit at their tables and we eat their meals. 

And absent-minded of our terror and anxiety, we realize that in traveling the distance we have found our neighbors, in making the journey we have found our place, and in crossing the street we have made our way home. 

We pray that our new neighbors would move in, and that we would cross the street to find ourselves. As we are bold to pray for terrifying things because we’ve been taught to do it, teach us what it means to come home in your kingdom. 

djordan
Pine Tree

Don’t miss The Hundred-Foot Journey on the big screen. If you miss it, you’ll regret it…and so will your neighborhood. 

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burnt burger buns

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They are a large part of what made me so grateful for the evening.

It was also fun that the three-year old kept asking about the “toast” in the oven. It’s not fun when the car breaks down, when questions linger in the air about bills and responsibilities and logistics. It’s not fun when things feel like they are spinning faster and faster and if one thing goes they’ll all go most likely. And normally a day like today closing out with burning burger buns would not be fun at all. But burnt burger buns and a three-year old asking about toast while the “adults” spill out their own worries and concerns and forget to notice the toast in the oven that will soon sandwich the burger beams helpful.

The laughs oozing from simultaneous exhaustion and relief over the dinner table are also part of what made me grateful for the evening. They were present not because it’s all figured out, not because things are resolved, not because the car is fixed, the bills are paid and the plates are stacked rather than spinning. But fun instead because after a three-year old prays, his tiny, waited-for and prayed-for face now here in the room with us hovering over those burnt burger buns he tried to tell us about, there are people sitting around the table eating, laughing, worrying and living forward. And doing it together in one way or another. It makes the day worth a toast again.

The burgers were delicious, by the way.
But it was the burnt buns that will make me remember to give thanks and pause for good moments and great friends.

djordan
Pine Tree

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to travel alone

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To travel alone out of state for several days is a certain kind of luxury. Yes. There is training all day long in a stale training room that could be identical to the one in your own office basement, but then training ends a few minutes earlier than planned. You now find yourself anonymous in a new city with new people and a new zeitgeist you’ve never been wrapped up in before.

And to travel alone means you don’t feel guilty, finally, to have your headphones blaring music which you are probably humming or badly singing harmonies to just under your breath to make it even worse. So you are walking down streets and looking in windows and in people’s eyes with a soundtrack of your favorite music pretending as if, since they will not see you again, that they don’t see you staring at them now. While you hum or sing badly just under your breath.

And then to travel alone means you pull up a chair and sit at the bar top with a book and more time than you remembering having in the last several weeks with nothing planned or pushing in on it from every angle. So you pull out the book, order a drink and maybe an appetizer, and then you sit and watch the people lining the rest of the dimly lit bar top, the people scattered at low, round tables along the edges of the restaurant, the people walking hand in hand down the sidewalk who may or may not live there but you suspect they do.

And suddenly, you begin to see something very familiar in this out-of-state place at this out-of-state bar top as this anonymous observer. You begin to see couples and groups and buddies and girlfriends laughing or bitching or crying or pontificating, and you see yourself and your friends at your tables in your restaurants on your streets. You see people passing plates and tasting each other’s drinks and it seems as though you belong because that’s what you do when you sit in your place with your people.

To travel alone out of state for several days, followed by your own soundtrack and land suddenly in the world of other humans, you ultimately find your own humanness. You find your friends and your enemies and your struggles and your hopes as you watch them pass the plates and share their glasses, and something feels oddly familiar. In the presence of the humanity of others, we find our anonymous selves at home. And at home, we find ourselves.

djordan
Lantern Restaurant, Chapel Hill, NC

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it’s the quiet conversations

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it’s the quiet conversations
the late night
emails, texts, calls, replies

it’s the quiet conversations
the early morning
coffees, meetings, book clubs, questions

it’s the quite conversations
the midday
confessions, drop-ins, lunches

where we realize that we are so close
to those we pretend to be so different from
and in finding out that we are wrestling
ultimately
with the same
fears
hopes
insecurities
questions
wonders
anxieties
sonnets

and in realizing that we are so close
we immediately feel so far
from being so all alone
and we give thanks.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

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dinner at the coffee table

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I don’t know why it has all come together in my brain this way.

Growing up, I remember being furious that this rule was put in place, even in middle and high school, that I MUST be present at the dinner table at least three or four nights a week. If I went out after that, that was one thing. If I ate or not was another thing, but my presence at the dinner table was required three or four nights a week. (I don’t remember which, so obviously it wasn’t as traumatic as I would like to pretend.)

As with many things I now reflect back on from growing up, I hated this rule at the time, and yet now I wouldn’t trade anything for it.

And a few nights ago, I joined some incredible friends from present day around their coffee table for dinner. At our home growing up, when I was huffing and puffing about having to be home for dinner around a table, we would every now and then sit around the coffee table, the same one I now have in my den, and eat pizza and watch TV together. I remember being angry that my parents could guess what was going to happen on the TV show, and I was likely more angry about this because I wanted to be anywhere but there at the moment.

But a few nights go, legs crossed over pillows on the floor, eating while sitting around their coffee table, I found myself in a kind of time freeze. The four year old daughter of my friends was pretending to make meals or be a drummer with her metal bowls and plastic whisks, and we were eating sushi with chopsticks out of styrofoam sakura to-go boxes.

There was much that reminded me, though, of growing up. The space for imagination and casualness, and play and informality. The insistence of good food even though it was spread out across a coffee table reminded me of how much has changed, and how little has changed at the same time.

And today, I’m in a counseling session with a family who can’t pay the bills so they share a home with another family. Four parents, five children, three minimum wage jobs, exponential stress. They were sitting in my office, a mom and dad, completely undone by the situation, and parenting skills to reflect the same. As they were talking, I found myself returning to the living room coffee table a few nights ago with incredible friends learning to be good parents, a four year old playing kitchen, and myself wondering how things will be remembered ten years later.

For all of us.

And most of all, I found myself glad that someone made me sit down for dinner three or four nights a week, no matter how unbelievable and unrealistic a request it seemed at the time.

djordan
Pine Tree

 

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skyping from kitchen to living room

I remember it pretty well, actually. About four years ago I think it was.

It was some kind of all-of-a-sudden party that the college folks from my Sunday night small group were getting me used to all over again. It started with “Can I come over and study?” and ended with us all sitting in different rooms of the house,  laptops open, seeing how many video skype conversations we could have going at one time.

Of course, after three or four the sounds starting echoing and whistling, my internet started gasping, and we had to shut the whole operation down.

I think, often on Sunday nights, about those guys, and all the other people they brought into my world. I think about where they are now, what they are doing, and how they are seeing and joining in signs of the kingdom all over the world these days.

Gentlemen: Ben, Quick, Coop, PeterB, Toddley, Ryan, Noah, Corey, Andrew, Bradley, Scotty Scott, Matt, Dennis, Dan, Devin, Ross…you fill me with pride.

It occurs to me this evening, actually being forced to talk to one of you via Skype because the distance has grown much greater than den to kitchen, that I would love to have you all sitting on the couch laughing, arguing, talking, praying, learning, hoping and skyping with your laptops in your hands.

But alas, the world is waiting for kingdom come, and you are those who bring it.

Gentlemen, you make me proud. Always.

djordan
Pine Tree

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until you can’t breathe

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and
endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded. + R. W. Emerson

I remember distinctly being 17 years old, sitting in a  Wendy’s with a buddy. The comment went like this: “You know how sometimes you start laughing so hard you can’t even breathe?” He replied that he couldn’t remember laughing that hard.

“That’s the only time it counts. It only counts when you laugh until you can’t breathe,” i informed him.

I think since then, unlike most seventeen-year old know-all conversations, that has become one of my lines to live by.

And I can think over and over again of times I have laughed until I couldn’t breathe.

Last night was one of those nights.

Laughter and breathless tears.
The kind that leaves you sweating.

After incredible appetizers where the comment heard over and over was, “This is delicious? Who would ever think of it together, but it’s delicious” down to the cinnamon dulce dessert with cream cheese ice cream that had me craving the entire container hidden in the freezer, the meal set the artful stage in an already artful atmosphere for the holy kind of dinner and after dinner conversations that end, over and over again, in tears.

Now added to the stayed seventeen-year-old proverb will be the value of landing in a place where you laugh so hard you cannot breathe with people you don’t really know. It speaks to a letting go of circumstance and pomp, letting go of first impressions, and acting as you act with good friends. Perhaps in the acting, something actually changes.

My stomach this morning hurts from laughing till I was breathless and teary-eyed, and it reminds me that while the world goes not well, the kingdom is coming.

djordan
Napa Valley

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At a high top under low light
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at a high top table under low light

corny jokes to the server
hospitable laughs in return
at a high top table under low light
clinking glasses and eating crumbs
conversation about
faith
fury
family
funnies
fortitude
fears
watches watched, but only barely
because it’s only a monday evening
realization that what we
beg for
clamor for
whine for
fight for
pay for
sing for
hope for
long for
is waiting for us on Monday evenings
at a high top table under low light
clinking glasses and eating crumbs.

And is waiting on Tuesday mornings.

djordan
Pine Tree

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+ monday mornings are the clearest view
+ no time to grab a camera
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+ in one place 

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favorite food blogs | weekly mash | 5.26.2012

In honor of my mom, my granddad, friends who feed me, people who dare to let me cook for them, and yet another holiday tomorrow that is celebrated by eating while sitting around something––the beach, the river, the dinner table, the backyard––I’ve collected my favorite food blogs for this edition of the weekly mash. There’s no question why a meal and a dinner table are seen as a kind of sacred space, a thin space, the space where we remember clearly after long walks down roads to important places we can finally see the truth about who it is that we are actually with.

So, in celebration, here are the food and drink blogs that have become regular stops for me. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Food Republic

Food Republic is founded on the idea that guys everywhere are putting food at the center of their lives like never before. This is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart.

http://www.foodrepublic.com

Food52

Food52 Before we knew it, we had a community on our hands. A community of talented, well-informed food people who loved to contribute. That’s when our identity crystallized: we weren’t just a social hub, but a constructive community. A place where, together, we create cookbooks, take on food projects, debate food news, help others with our real-time food Q&A — the Food52 Hotline — and band together to support local food producers.

http://www.food52.com

Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York City. A lot of comfort foods stepped up a bit, things like bread and birthday cakes made entirely from scratch and tutorials on everything from how to poach an egg to how to make tart doughs that don’t shrink up on you, but also a favorite side dish (zucchini and almonds) that takes less than five minutes to make.

http://www.smittenkitchen.com

 Tasting Table

Tasting Table Think of Tasting Table as the friend you call to ask, “Where should I eat tonight?” We’re the friend who knows the best spot for $2 tacos, and which $200 tasting menu is worth the splurge. We’re serious eaters who don’t take ourselves too seriously–like you.

http://www.tastingtable.com

The Kitchn

theKitchn This is a site for people who like to get their hands dirty while they cook. It is for those who care about the quality of their food, and how it affects the health of themselves and the planet. It is also for those who want to cook more, but are shy in the kitchen. It’s a place to dive in deep, and embrace the joy of one of our basic needs: Food, cooked at home, nourishing ourselves and our households.

http://www.thekitchn.com

Other MOST HOPEFUL posts on the magic of the table:

djordan
Pine Tree

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