Three years came and went. And the truth is I was busy, lovesick, on the road, and didn’t notice this year. April 12, that was the 3 year mark. I don’t even know what country I was in. I know that I’m currently in Portugal, and that I’m hopping over to Croatia for five days after this and then on to Italy & France to teach two more workshops before finally, finally running home. Home to breakfasts and weekdays and the gym and yoga and morning coffee and and and home to normal. Home to the romance of the ordinary & weekend waffles.
This project, this blog, abides as a constant, but my life continues to surprise me in its unfolding. And Earl Grey waffles, a personal favorite comfort food infused with a personal favorite comfort tea, seemed as good a recipe as any to both celebrate 3 years of this space and my current love affair with home, with home defined as being where the heart is. In my life, I’ve taken everything as it comes, when it comes, never pretending at forevers. Okay, sometimes pretending at them but always aware of the precarious nature of pretending. I expected the landscape of my life to forever morph, seashore in the tide, time doing the eroding it’s so adept at, taking and leaving bits and pieces of my world and self as it saw fit. And so it has. Until now.
Something curious happened. That lovesick bit I mentioned above. Time, finally, didn’t only take. It brought things back to me, little artifacts & pieces of myself so long lost I wondered if they’d ever existed at all or if I’d just imagined them. I found them again one afternoon in early February, and that unexpected event necessitated many things including briefly but very thoroughly losing my mind, much weeping, and then most finally changing my entire life and being happier than I’ve ever been in some odd 32 years. I’ve weighed the idea of writing about those changes here. There are myriad good reasons not to. But I’ve reached the conclusion that this space is my home, and my experiences are all I know. In short, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write again if I don’t write about what’s happening now.
The short version is simply this: I, most unexpectedly and three weeks before leaving the country for 3 months (impeccable timing), fell in love with a man that is a perfectly impossible ball of contradictions, and I didn’t know what home, love, or forever was until I met him. When I did finally see him—I mean really see him—I knew I’d missed him my entire life. I knew. I knew in a fundamental way I’ve never experienced in my life. People say these things for a reason. What they don’t tell you is that “just knowing” sometimes takes the form of going crazy trying to talk yourself out of it for a couple of weeks.
I’d recently started to average about 6 months a year on the road. Terminal after terminal, endless glass walls and escalators—my blood ran electric in even the most mundane of travel scenarios. I have an apothecary routine that can be executed in an airport bathroom in five minutes that simulates all but the psychological effects of a hot shower & a good night’s sleep. I have life on the road down to a science, but oftentimes I don’t know what time or day it is at all. Sometimes I even forget what season or hemisphere I’m in, and I never know how to greet people. Is it one kiss or two? Can I hug? Shake hands? Bow? I like bowing. Nomad. It’s was my thing. Was being the operative word.
Though I’m currently still on it, the road leaves me cold. The thrill is gone. Everything I see seems utterly useless without being able to share it. I never thought about that boring old adage “home is where the heart is” until my heart was somewhere else. Now it makes too much awful sense. No wonder I felt so at home on the road; I carried my heart with me wherever I went. Now it’s firmly situated elsewhere, and no matter how rich & alive the countries I wander to are, I’m not whole. I’ve always prided myself on being present, now I flicker in and out like a ghost.
My life previously was known. It was comfortable and easy. Familiar. Safe. I found myself more and more married to my work & travel. It had become my child, my life. There was a vein of discontent running through it all, to be sure, but I accepted it. We have to grow up, after all. These are the things we tell ourselves. I wrote impossible worlds at night to keep my blood warm enough. I ran through my life in a manic, workaholic frenzy. It seemed alright. Productive. Responsible. Busy, busy, busy. I wasn’t looking to change anything.
Then, this past February, I walked into a coffee shop back home in Chattanooga dressed, in my usual fashion, like a Jedi or Japanese grandmother depending on who you ask. I chatted with the owner (a preternaturally friendly guy…) and, the picture of grace, managed to hit myself in the face with a shopping bag whilst doing so due to my habit of wild gesticulation. We’d talked a few times before. As I recall, I was always saying very attractive things like “I just bought fancy sweatpants!” or “Talking to people makes me sweat profusely.” Oblivious, in a word. And not looking. That’s when these things tend to happen, it would seem.
We became friends, and I fell in love with that preternaturally friendly man. Instantly. I was toast. And I knew it. So much so that I, in my infinite wisdom, immediately called a therapist, cried a lot, and sent my closest friends spaghetti emojis to illustrate the state of my brain. I’d work out to prime, vintage Katy Perry tracks until I almost fainted in attempts to forget about him. It seemed impossible. And dangerous. Until about three weeks later when I decided, a week before leaving the country for three months (that awesome timing again), that the only impossible, dangerous thing was to not give us a chance. When I say forever now, there is no disillusioned girl in the back of my mind saying “you can’t really know that”. As it turns out, you can really know that. From a cellular level to a spiritual level, I know. It’s a love I feel made for, designed for. A perfect fit. In all my life, I’ve never felt this way. I’m shocked this is even a way people can feel. I didn’t even know this was a thing. So settled. So done. So homesick.
Now I just want to go home to Tennessee and make waffles while he makes the coffee. He happens to be very good at that.
earl grey waffles & whipped honey cream
Comfort heaped upon comfort, buttermilk brown sugar waffles infused with the floral, bergomot scent of Earl Grey tea and warm vanilla. These need nothing more than to be topped with lightly sweetened honey cream and served alongside a cup of excellent coffee or tea. They're an ode to Sunday mornings in both how simple they are to make as well as how special they taste.
- 480 grams all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons finely ground earl grey tea + 2 bags for steeping
- 200 grams dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 170 grams (12 tablespoons) melted butter, at room temperature
- 240 grams whole milk
- 240 grams buttermilk
For Whipped Honey Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- honey to taste (I like about 3 tablespoons)
- Bring the milk to a simmer, remove from the heat, and add in the two tea bags. Let steep for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing them gently to get flavor out. Set the milk tea aside.
- Meanwhile as the milk steeps, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground tea in a large mixing bowl.
- In another mixing bowl combine the dark brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, butter, buttermilk, and the cooled milk tea. Stir to combine thoroughly.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine until no dry bits remain. Don't over stir the batter, a few lumps are fine.
- Heat your waffle iron and cook waffles according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- While the waffles cook, whip your cream lightly in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. You can obviously just do it by hand but that will take a little elbow grease. It's what I usually do so I can tell myself I worked out while making waffles. Once it reaches soft peaks, gently whisk the honey in by hand. Whipped cream should be soft and fluffy, not stiff and over-whipped.
- You can keep waffles warm in a low oven while you wait for them all to cook, but they're best served hot and crispy right off the iron.
- Enjoy with coffee or tea, whatever your poison be!
All photos of me or my hands by Eric Charles Peterson.