Today’s Miles: 6.3
Total Miles: 1,680.1
Mora, Sweden – September 19, 2016
Olive oil begins to bubble across the bottom of the pan. I hold my hand over it, feeling for the heat, then adjust the knob of the stove. A bit down, not too hot yet, don’t rush it.
Onions tear my eyes as I slice them into a pile. Pieces of garlic stick to the knife. I feel for the pan’s heat again, then slide everything into it. The sound of crackling oil rises off the stove and the smell of home floods the air.
I stare into the pot, fiddling with the oven knob and stirring the garlic and onions with a spoon as they sizzle and pop in the hot oil. I don’t know how long it takes, I only know what it looks like from watching it done. I stare and stir until the onions turn clear and threaten to burn, then march a line of ingredients in one by one, each in their turn, until the pan is full with memories.
I stare and stir and stare and stir and then remember one last missing piece. I grab my phone and, a moment later, music pours out of it, joining the smell of simmering onions and garlic in the air.
The band, Calle Real, is one of my favorites. If you didn’t know, you’d think they were from Cuba, but they are from Stockholm. It makes me love them even more though because when I hear them it reminds me of those little pieces of culture that spill off us as we move through the world.
A Cuban band in Sweden. A shared meal made by a foreigner’s hands. A dance you’ve never seen before. A story about a land you’ve only known on a map. The prayers you’ve never heard to Gods different from yours. The clothing that looks like a costume. The new spirits, ghosts, and fairies that exist in the same fringe of imagination. The words spoken as you raise a glass to drink. The looks, smiles, gestures, and sounds of languages you do not understand.
The glorious differences.
I love those pieces, the parts of ourselves that we carry with us, that spill off us into the weave of humanity to strengthen the threads. They connect us person to person. They put a face, a moment, a name in place of they and them.
The music plays. The pot simmers on the stove as we set the table for four. The night is all Cuban food at a Swedish table, smiles and laughter, stories in three languages, and strangers becoming friends.
What a wonderful world.