Something about Manhattan only being three and a half short hours away from Boston made me sure I wasn’t moving far away from home. It wasn’t Seattle, like last time. It wasn’t even Philadelphia, like the time before. Or Rome, like that other time.
In November, when I hammered my thumb to the wall for the final time in the move-in process, I told my mom I’d be home soon. And I was, for Christmas. But then I wasn’t anymore. Three months and change isn’t that long, I’ve reasoned since, but just recently I found this online calculator — See Your Folks. It’s tagline is, “We’re so busy growing up we sometimes forget that they are also growing older.” You enter where your parents live, their ages, and how many times, on average, you see them per year, and — brace yourself — it calculates roughly how many times you’ll see them before they die. It does this by using World Health Organization data on life expectancy rates. Now, at first thought, it’s incredibly morbid and yes, jarring. I get it. It’s not for everyone.
When I calculated it for my mom and stepdad, two of the most vital sources of love in my life, the number was something like 112, and that, my friends, just seems shockingly low. The feeling I’m left with, whether or not the number is rubbish, isn’t one of morbid fascination, no, it’s a clarity, perspective. It’s a recognition of how terribly easy it is for me to put my parents off on my list of things to do, to see.
Sometimes, these strange little websites come along and serve as a gentle reminder that all those things I think are so wickedly important? All those meetings I have to take or I’ll just shrivel up and become irrelevant? All those people on social media who may or may not have made a cake that I need to eat with my eyeballs? They’re not the loves of my life.
I don’t know if it’s a product of having lost someone already, but that certainly helps to make the rush of time feel more whooshing, more real. When Dad died seventeen years ago, I started with the dreams that Mom’d go too. I slept in her bed. I felt a homesickness for her when I wasn’t away, a real fear that I couldn’t tell her I loved her as much as I did — not with simple, stupid language, anyway. And it plagued me, especially in college. I’d go through bouts of wondering if I should move home — even though I was only two hours away. I was sure she’d get sick and not tell me because that’s just the type of woman she is, always wanting to spare me worry, and then I was consumed with a sense that in eighteen years, I just hadn’t had enough time with her.
I’m better about it now. Better in the way of knowing that I can’t ever tell her how much I love her, nor can she tell me. There just aren’t words big enough for that kind of thing. It’s a part of growing up. As you get older you realize that you need to say less and simply be more. Do more. You find you need to tell people who you are far less frequently than you need to just be that very person and let your actions naturally reflect you. Love is much the same.
So this week, for Easter, I’m going home. I’m making it a point to do it more. More phone calls to friends and family, more letters mailed, more spontaneous weekend trips, more hugs so hard that I hurt the other person, more kisses like the one between Danny and Mindy in the airplane scene on the Mindy Project.
The recipe I’ve chosen for the holiday, and all of the spring, is one that’s sweet and special, but pleasantly unfussy. It’ll free you up to spend more time with the ones who matter. I used clementines because there’s quite the serious overabundance of them in my home and I’m scared of what will happen if they linger much longer, frankly. The homemade clementine curd takes all of ten minutes to whip together and just a little over an hour to chill. It’s tart and refreshingly zingy, which makes it all the more reasonable to pair with whipped cream. For the tart shells, I chose to buy those mini frozen phyllo dough cups you see in the freezer case at the market, just to keep things easy (try Athens brand). The phyllo is crisp and light — almost undetectable in taste, which lets the clementine and cream flavor shine.
Enjoy them, friends!
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon finely grated clementine zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 2-3 clementines)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 package Athens Mini Fillo Shells (15 shells), thawed
- 15 small clementine twists (Peeled clementine skin, cut into thin strips and curled), for garnish
- Make the curd: Combine the egg yolks, clementine zest, clementine juice, lemon juice, and granulated sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Remove the saucepan from heat and transfer the curd to a small bowl. Let cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make the whipped cream: Combine the heavy cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium high until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- Put the thawed phyllo cups on a large plate. Spoon 1 tablespoon of curd into each of the cups followed by a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish each with a clementine twist.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, for up to one week.