It’s been a summer mostly of anxiety and changes, and I’m happy to see it out. I spent most of it working on what may be my most luxuriant, stable, comforting piece—the title, in fact, is Comfort Food—not a conscious response to my circumstances, I don’t think, but an interesting juxtaposition if you go by those sorts of biographical details. The final score left the nest a few days ago, winging towards Milwaukee, so it feels like a natural time to draw the season to a close.
Comfort Food is partly a piece about another season: Thanksgiving-time, when it will be premièred by Present Music and the Milwaukee Choral Artists. There are holiday periods during which a certain type of person feels obliged to make lists, whether it’s “Things 2 B Thankful 4” or New Year’s resolutions or those perennial end-of-year critic’s “best of/worst of” lists. I can abide none of the aforementioned so I made a list of comfort foods, collected haphazardly from my friends and family as well as members of the chorus. I didn’t use the entire collection, but here is how the text of the piece turned out:
- buttered toast
- pasta with peperoncino, garlic, and olive oil
- liver and onions
- fish and chips the English way
- my mother’s meatloaf
- red wine
- chicken noodle soup
- matzoh ball soup
- red-cooked pork belly
- rye whiskey
- potatoes of almost any kind
- a good chair
- my own bed
- “Sense and Sensibility” with Emma Thompson
- take-out Chinese food on Christmas Eve
- the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person
- Prokofiev seventh symphony
As you can see the text begins in the ploddingly pedestrian, gradually moves into depressants, and ends up somewhere a bit metaphysical—a familiar evening trajectory. The penultimate line is from either George Eliot or somebody named Dinah Craik. The last line refers to something I tweeted back in May—pedestrian indeed, but the original inspiration for the piece nonetheless.
I’m moving to a new apartment this week, out of transient hipster G‑train-land and further into the venerable heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed Stuy for short). Another double bar of some kind, and also what feels like a tiny step further into adulthood. I’ve never had my own domain that wasn’t shared with a roommate or significant other, and I’m more excited about the impending solitude than I would have imagined.