Yes, darling yes
The scene was desperate—my kitchen a war zone of splattered milk, spilt flour, melting butter and oily noodles. I cook the way I do most of my life…everything all at once.
Pushing my hair back with my left hand, I attempted to maintain a steady whisking rhythm for the cream sauce required for my recipe.
I’d gone long enough since attempting to make this lasagna that I had forgotten just how difficult the sauce is. If your skillet is too hot and you scorch the flour, or if you add the milk too quickly, or if you add the milk before it has been adequately warmed, everything quickly turns to shit. A friend used the descriptor “coagulated.” That is 100% accurate.
That night, a fatal slip of my hand brought a torrent of expletives. It had happened to me: what was sauce rapidly transformed to play-do. For a moment, I stirred faster, as if that could help. Then, I attempted to add little bits of additional milk, hoping I could take back my deadly error and nurse this sauce back to life.
But deep down I knew the truth. I exhaled, hung my head a bit and dumped all contents from my skillet straight into the trash.
It’s ok. I recited. You can do this.
It’s been a process, learning to be kind to my failures. I haven’t always known what to do with my botched, go big or go home, self. I haven’t always given myself permission to have another shot.
As I portioned each of the ingredients out again, paying precise attention to my pours, I reflected on the irony that I was cooking this meal for a dinner party the next night inspired by the theme “Here’s to Second Chances.”
Oh, second chances.
The night of the party arrived, and I greeted each guest at the front entrance of my place. We all were a bit unkempt upon arrival—my space wasn’t quite ready, each person’s contribution to the meal had some final touches required, we all found ourselves running from whatever had just happened, spilling into dinner a bit undone.
And none of us was too bothered by the realness.
As I climbed the stairs with Laura, she smirked at her own lateness saying, “I bet you have everything all organized and set upstairs!” She had no idea. Something about all that loose preparation felt so well suited to the evening. We hadn’t felt the need to show up entirely put together…it was ok to come exactly as we were, and to embrace whatever spontaneity the evening brought.
I cannot speak for what the evening held for my friends, but I know for me the discoveries of the night felt sweet and surprising.
Gathered around an incredible tablescape of candles and all manner of unearthed, ordinary beauty, we each told a story of how second chances are showing up in our everyday lives.
Each story was inspired by a quote set at our place, and mine was an invitation to say “yes” to the moment, exactly as it is.
My heart was palpitating at alarming levels as I took in the quote. A stream of “foolish” choices rapidly fired through my brain—all of the one-in-a-million choices that probably won’t pan out. I thought about my book, sitting on my desk unpublished. I thought about the Masters degree stretching out before me, offering no known professional value. I thought about the interactions with my ex-fiancé over the last year, and the hope I’ve carried. I used to say “yes” to the plan, the ideal, the perfect arrangement of circumstances. Now “yes” holds a lot of grit, and it’s what I say to the moments that make my heart race and might end up working out.
“Yes” doesn’t come with guarantees anymore.
I looked up to the faces surrounding me—eyes welcoming and curious—and I poured all of that out on the table, in some form of semi-coherent rambling. I’m not entirely confident what got shared in what order.
Then each friend spoke what she noticed, and the frightened parts of me started to feel quite lovely. My friends found me brave, even though I don’t feel it. They noticed that I hold what is real with gentleness and intentionality, and I let it go when it is time. They delighted in my “yes”s. They hoped I would keep saying “yes”—yes to life and yes for me.
I have realized that if we live long enough and bold enough, all of life becomes about second chances. For our own hearts and for our loved ones. As my journey continues and I pray to be brave, I’m grateful for the old friends and new friends who gather around my table with their rallying cries of “YES.”
This post is a follow-up to a piece I wrote for Red Tent Living on hosting a Red Tent Dinner.