Anya walked until she could no longer walk and when the walking was done, she sat. She was not picky in her choice of seat and when the old woman with the great big bag stepped aside and revealed a thin gray step at the front of a bright purple door, Anya felt her body move toward it like metal to a magnet. She sat down and tucked her own bag behind her legs. She examined her black-and-white flats, the one with the solitary red dot on the right shoe. They made her smile but they were not made for walking. It was not her intention to walk so far or for so long.
She no longer felt the graying mist that wafted around her. She had been in Paris for six days and it had rained for six days. Sometimes, the rain came down in thick sheets. Others, pellets. Yesterday and today, it was a haze of wet that covered everything and everyone. Even the vendors at the market wore the droplets on their hats like misplaced gems, resigned expressions on their old, lined faces.
Anya had cried for almost six days. The first time, it had been over a peach in the market. The second, it was when she saw, out of the corner of her eye, a man give his lady an elbow as she stepped off the curb. Every time after that, Anya needed no reason to cry.
She was tired of her own tears, almost as much as she was tired of the rain. She had started walking and did not stop until the tears did, until the ache in her soles crept louder than that of her heart, and her bag felt heavy on her shoulder and she could think only of sitting, only of stopping.
While she sat, relieved and aching, on the thin step, the sun made a brief appearance. It slipped out through the cover of clouds and flooded the street with light. Anya did not even notice at first. She heard the old woman beside her sigh.
When she looked up, the activity on the street had stopped. The woman pushing the stroller across the way. The man selling lettuces and onions the size of grapefruits. The couple emerging from the Metro. For a moment, they froze and, together, watched the sun skitter over the street and drape the small corner in a yellow glow.
Just minutes, seconds really, and it was gone, slipped back into the clouds. The people took up their walks once more.
Anya grabbed the edge of her skirt in her hand and made a fist. She closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, perhaps for the first time.
Sometimes, life can take such a turn.
One day, you’re going about your business. You sit at a big desk and you type, type, type. There’s a view of the water, a sleeping pooch by your side. You worry, you wait, you wonder when things will start. You bake things. You do crunches. This is your landscape, this it will be.
And then you blink and the view of the water is different. And the pooch is the same but the people surrounding him have changed. And you’re not sitting by the water at all but on a plane. And there’s whispering flight attendants and the glow of your computer screen and a sleeping kid in the seat next to yours (not yours, don’t worry. Things haven’t changed that much. Although if I open my purple door tomorrow and find a basket with a baby in it, I wouldn’t be all that shocked, given how things have gone lately.) (Oh, god, please don’t leave a baby on my doorstep.) And soon you’ll leave the plane and head to a garage and a car that’s now yours, big and bulky and unfamiliar, and drive home, with still uncertain twists of the wheel, to your new house.
And if the universe is a merciful one, there might be soup waiting when you lug your big red bag through the door. A big vat of it with a tumble of crusted bread beside it and tiny slips of pale cheese. I’m not exactly sure how such a thing is possible but hey, anything can happen right?
Classic French Onion Soup
Source: Tyler Florence, Food Network | Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Servings: 4 – 6 | Print Recipe
1/2 Cup of unsalted butter
4 Onions, sliced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 Bay leaves
2 Fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Cup of red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 Heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 Quarts of beef broth
1 Baguette, sliced
1/2 Pound of grated Gruyere
1. Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
3. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
4. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir.
5. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
6. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
8. When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with grated cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to melt the cheese and then top with croutons.
* For the croutons: Cut day old french bread into cubes. Drizzle olive oil and dried herbs of your choice onto bread. Bake for 10-15 min in a 350 degree oven.