Archive for August 2011


“So you still cooking?”

August 24th, 2011 — 10:16am

Crave Kitchen - El Paso

I was asked this question while I was in El Paso on business this past weekend. My young friend had taken an interest in my cooking skills and when he asked the question I knew he was referring to the lack of posts on my blog recently. It pleased me that he took an interest in one of my avocations if it did embarrass me a bit that I have been remiss in the blogging department lately.

I have known this young man for almost two years now. He is in the Army at Fort Bliss. Something that weighs heavy on my mind when I watch The News Hour and they announce all the casualties of the wars. When we first met he was more confused and directionless in his life having lost his father two years earlier. For whatever reason we kept in touch maintaining one of the more unlikely relationships in my life. Me the mentor and him the one seeking advice, usually with some laughs at my expense. He told me “I think the Army has been good for me. So you still cooking?” Obviously wanting to get off one of the subjects I ask him about, reenlisting.

I also was able to spend some time with another young man I had met recently. A very focused young man attending college in New England and getting ready to spend a semester in France. He knows what he wants and he is going to get it. But all this intensity leads him to overly worry. He is sure he will run out of money or some horrible series of events will ruin his trip. I try to point out that at his age you should be coasting through life a bit.

I was able to have dinner with both my young friends on separate occasions. I find that sharing a meal also lowers barriers. Some of the things that cannot be discussed at other times are not as taboo over the intimacy of the dinner table. I told my young friend in the military that it is time to start planning for what comes after his contract ends. Or the pressure to reenlist will become too overwhelming. I have made it clear that I am against reenlisting, as if I really have a say in the matter. My young Francophone was counseled with a bit of “things happen for a reason.” If you expect things to go wrong they will. Or you can just approach life one day at a time and react to what comes your way. A much more enjoyable if a bit less focused trip through life.

In reality, in the comfort of the dinner table, my greatest preference would have been to protect the soldier from harm, and shoo the other one out the door to France with just a backpack and a lap-top computer. Two entirely different reactions to two entirely different situations. One enjoying the predictability of the army the other trying to maintain control of his life. In counseling the traveler I said “You usually find yourself in the unknown.” A profundity that I am sure went right over his head. I think I said it for myself anyway. I have been in awe watching these youngsters blossom into beautiful young men. Perhaps a bit of the unknown would be a good choice for me right now.

“So you still cooking?” Yes I am. But it does not always involve the kitchen.

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