I still remember that night at her apartment. We were in the wee days of our early twenties, and I traversed the stairs to her place where she was boiling pasta. We’d met in high school, but now she was newly married and cooking us dinner. This was uncharted territory. Usually we were meeting over booths and plates of nachos. Now she was married with living room shelves loaded with her husband’s Star Wars action figures. He had a vast array of Storm Troopers to create a full army of plastic men. (No judgment. My boyfriend at the time had decorated our living room with Lego sets. What can I say? We all had a type.)
My friend tossed the hot pasta in deep green pesto from a jar. Regardless of the jar, to my sensibilities it seemed straight up fancy. My go-to pasta sauces were also from jars, but stuffed with tomatoes and zucchini. This one had the freshly cut grass smell of basil, notes of garlic, and the nutty depth of pine nuts. Action figures or no, it all felt so adult, like new terrain we were treading. It felt like playing dress-up in these new lives as grown-ups.
Looking back on those days long ago, I can’t help but think of how much time has passed between then and now – not just in days and hours but in life phases. At each step of our lives, it feels like now is the way it will always be. We’ll always fall asleep in these beds and wake up to this breakfast… Until one day you realize you haven’t made that once-favorite meal or gone to that once-favorite restaurant in many moons.
Gretchen Rubin, who wrote The Happiness Project, said, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Each day with its routine, and duties, and going to the bank, and doing the laundry, they stretch to fill until suddenly you’re in an altogether different place, and yesterday’s normal is not today’s.
Yesterday’s fancy is today’s simple spring meal – chunky homemade pesto with just-plucked basil and fresh-from-the-ground garlic. It’s tossed with crisp-on-the-outside, pillowy-on-the-inside roasted gnocchi. And it’s everything I need to revisit a full mouthful of spring… just add Storm Troopers.
Note: You’ll want to check the ingredients on brands of gnocchi to make sure it’s vegan. My favorite gnocchi brand is in the frozen section from Rising Moon Organics. The 8-ounce package of gnocchi makes for a small serving for two. It’s plenty if you’ll be having sides as well, but if it’s going to be the total meal for two, you may want to double it.