Drinking whiskey

I don’t know why this week was harder than any other, but I was very aware of the difference. Waking up too slowly. The coffee didn’t kick in. I went back to sleep. Going to sleep too slowly each night, wishing the day would just end and wondering why my body would even want to stay awake knowing that if I get too tired I wouldn’t be able to hold back the floodgates of tears that have been storing up for nearly 2 years. And getting to know whiskey, my new best friend. I wanted to throw the whole week away, but especially today. Today is no different than those other seven days that came before, but it is what I am living now. Of course the feelings are more intense today than were yesterday’s feelings. Those I have already forgotten… well, not exactly forgotten… they’ve just became part of the gray cloud that has engulfed me.

Even spices don’t revive me. I made a great red curry last night and it bored me. That scared me. Have I lost my ability to take myself out of my pain by burning my mouth? Or by searing my nostrils with the steam and smoke that flame up when I throw the hot things into the oil, before adding the soft and sweet tamarind water and coconut cream? Oh god, what would that mean? Long, gray days with no interruption? An English summer, one like last year when the sun came out for 5 days, but it was too little too late. I am the worst of English summers today.

I don’t mind the gray days with clouds and rain in London weather. But to have an internally gray day that even the hot peppers can’t wake up? Well, that is just worse than the coffee that doesn’t do its job. I’d have to go back to bed forever. Except for my new friend. Even Oddbins conspired with my new friend, trying to make me fall in love. Oh that I could fall in love with whiskey, but its intensity is not as great as my emptiness. I can’t drink enough of it to become blinded by its beauty. But there was a whiskey tasting at Oddbins tonight, a degustation, and I’d stopped by there on my way home from renting a video. He served me 5 different sips of whiskey and showed me the chart in which each fell into a certain category… sweet, delicate, smokey… Some were missing, like my favorites Laphroig and Macallan. But others were there … and I chose a new stranger this time to keep me company tonight. I started sipping it during the video. It was a film about a man who flirted with death, until he died: Manolete, the Spanish bullfighter. His girlfriend couldn’t understand his love affair with death. My boyfriend can’t understand how I’m trying to find a new best friend, something that will help me escape from death – not my own, or maybe my own, since I still can’t seem to see who I am as anyone other than my son’s mother… and he is not here anymore.

Whiskey has its own vocabulary. Learning to listen to it did distract me. I opened my almost empty bottle of Macallan, and did my own little tasting. The new one, proposed by the Oddbins guy, is still nearly full. I don’t add water or ice. First I finished off the other one and then started on Aberlour, my new friend, a highland single malt. It might just take me through the rest of this week, to sunnier days… if I drink it slowly enough… if the sun comes out… if my taste buds wake up and the coffee starts doing its job again… if I can stop remembering what it is that hurts so much. No dilution there either. While I was comparing the subtle differences in these two friends, learning to speak to them, to savour their differences, for a few moments I forgot why I’d had such a gray and cloudy week. In a few weeks it will be the second anniversary of the original Nomad Chef’s death, my son. I might have to find a few distractions to get me through this. Cooking helps. Spices usually help. Conversations with complete strangers who come to my dinners, who take me for who I am now, who accept me in my cloudier moments… well, that is the best for what ails me. In the meantime, I’ll drink a little more whiskey.

1 thought on “Drinking whiskey

  1. David Dillman

    I’ve only known you since your darker moments, … so it is the way I prefer you, Chef. As for the Whiskey, I think I prefer it in the shorter days of the year. Better fuel for the spirit, or faster, perhaps. I’ve always been that way, and even moreso in recent years. I think I’m met to try Macallan, … you are the second to recommend it indirectly. We Yanks gravitated to whiskeys early on, … fought wars over it here. Typical of us to take a thing of joy and turn it into a conflict!

    So I’ll raise a glass of caramel colored salvation to you, and hope the notion that ice in a clinking glass a few thousand miles away is a reminder of this club you never wanted to be part of, … and thanks for sharing your thoughts here on the Nomad Chef!

    I’ll read more about this young man who inspired these words. it is his due, and will be my pleasure. A touch of whiskey will make him real to each of us as well. Thanks, Mum!


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