I was at my friend J’s apartment near the beach, and we’d spent the day dilly-dallying, and we were half-watching the Oscars… this was almost 4 years ago to the day.
I had just moved to the United States from Spain, and I was trying to figure out where I belonged now. I didn’t feel like I was connected to anyone, but in the course of a month-long road trip to see friends and family, I was starting to reimagine what it meant to have close friends.
A video called “How to Be Alone” became a totem for me during those years abroad and the first year home – one of the lines that it used, talking about how people who are alone don’t have to experience it as loneliness, was “you can be surrounded in an instant if you need it.” Which was true: those who loved me weren’t everpresent while I traveled and studied and kept moving all the time, but they could be there, if I needed them.
On this watercolor map, I painted all the groups of friends I had, how they were inter-connected, and how they were connected to times in my life. It wasn’t a piece of art for the world, but it really gave me a visual, when I left J’s apartment and went back to living alone and reading books for most of my days in grad school, to remind me of those who could surround me if I needed it.
These days, recipes are often the ways I feel most surrounded.