Different Domestics: Dinner Parties in New York

winepourI didn’t move here for the dinner parties. In fact, I specifically moved to New York to get away from the dinner parties. My last two years in Los Angeles seemed to revolve almost entirely of them and the process it took to play hostess – afternoons spent shopping, Sundays at the farmer’s market, monthly trips to Costco to buy cashews in bulk. That Christmas just before I ducked out, my presents – purchased by my mother before my boyfriend and I broke up – consisted of placemats and cooking supplies, glaring evidence of a newly irrelevant domestic past.

And so I came to New York, and I moved into an apartment, and I stopped cooking. Much to my annoyance, my roommate cooked every day, filling the apartment with the smells of freshly cooked pasta, seared tuna, sautéed vegetables. She, unlike myself, did not find cooking-for-one endlessly depressing, but therapeutic and relaxing. I, on the other hand, spent those first few months eating frozen spinach pies cooked in the toaster oven. When I was feeling especially lazy, I would lean against the kitchen counter eating hummus out of the container with a spoon.

I came to New York, and I moved into an apartment, and I stopped cooking.

It was in these moments that I desperately missed the concept of hearth and home. My pseudo-married life had been, by leaps and bounds, technically “better” than my New York living situation. My boyfriend and I had had a massive duplex, with a 10-person dining room table, a cappuccino machine, a bathroom the size of most Manhattan studios. And though my Nolita apartment was one of those beautifully renovated buildings with brick walls and high ceilings, I had a roommate with a dog who liked to poop inside every day… in front of my bedroom door. Quickly I became nostalgic for everything I had so hastily given up, but well aware that that life was done, irretrievable.

But then I found my own apartment, one with an office and a kitchen and a bathroom that, while not as big as my one in LA, I could literally dance around in. There was light and space and air and, most importantly, a big living room where I could have dinner parties of my own. And so I began to host them, inviting small groups people to sit around my sofa with their plates on their laps, drinking wine out of whatever cups were currently available. Two years after my Los Angeles life had ended, I had found it again, on my own, with different people in a different city.

When those nights are over, after all the plates have been licked clean, after every bottle happily emptied, I wave goodbye to my friends and watch them scatter down the street. Alone, I walk back up the stairs and, with more gratitude than should be considered normal, greet a mountain of dishes and heaps of dirty silverware, evidence of my fortunate domestic present.

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