5 or 6 things


(after ‘7 or 8 Things I Know About Her – A Stolen Biography’ by Michael Ondaatje)

the before

For a time in her life, she waited for something to happen. Weekdays were for commuting and getting to a job she will not remember in two years. She filled her Saturdays with cooking shows but she mostly ate fast food. On Sundays, she sorted through newspaper ads for new furniture while she sat on the empty floor of her living room. One night she heard raccoons the back patio. She turned on the light and watched their tiny paws rip open a new bag of dog food.

the bay blue

The Ferry Building in San Francisco is always full – markets and specialty shops, tourists and locals, history lessons plastered on the walls and street performers along the street. She goes with her notebook and a plan to sit on the pier, eating and writing. The blue cheese she buys is tangy, gritty and finishes sweet. The baguette is long and crisp. No one is expecting her at home. Her writing comes out in single words, minutes apart. Down the pier, a family speaks Chinese.

red hawk

“It tastes like licking the inside of a very clean barn.”

the goats of summer

In the summer, she goes to the desert. At a shop in town, someone says, “People used to raise cattle here until everything dried up”. She thinks about cows getting sunburns. At the farmers market, a woman offers her a sample of apricot honey goat cheese. The woman has lived in the desert twenty years and wants to get out. The woman says, “Eventually, you want some shade.”  She buys a container of cheese and eats it in the parking lot.

the blue ewe

She has not been to Minnesota in over a year. The flight is long and to her, it is always cold. Finally, in September she decides to go. The weather report says it will be in the high 70’s. She packs her winter coat. She meets her friend and they go to the park. They eat a sheep’s milk cheese with an olive loaf. After an hour, the cheese starts to glisten and their wine is too warm to drink.

the memories

Her first time in New York. A polar vortex threatens the country. The apartment they rent is off Bleeker Street. She stands on the corner looking into Murray’s Cheese Shop. Then, The Cheese Bar. She buys ‘Notes on Cheese’ and carries it with her the whole trip. Months later when she is back home, she forgets the chill of the mornings in New York and how lonely she felt on New Year’s Eve. She opens the notebook and remembers the blue cheese from Germany, the manchego from La Mancha and the velvety 3-cheese fondue.


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