I still struggle greatly to feel ok about taking up space on the internet. I actually think that it parallels a similar feeling I have in the physical world. I am afraid to take up space. I cannot bear a world with more of me in it, yet that’s what I want. I want to have a voice and tell a story, but I want to do so in a way that does not cause ripples. I want to quietly enter the waters, unannounced and only make a great big splash at just the right moment, when everything is perfect and I have explained myself and everything in just the right way so that there is no chance of misunderstanding, no way to offend, I want to be the embodiment of boldness in the guise of gracefulness. Can we be both and be both well?
I have never been graceful or quiet and actually myself at the same time.
I am graceful in the kindness and understanding I extend to people, especially those who have hurt me, but not in how I move through the world. I might be graceful when I run, but not in the moments of the race that matter most, not in the painful ones where I dig deep and have to verbally coach myself through the final 800 meters, the final minutes where I can feel the tiny fibers of my muscles tearing under the load of physical demand. I am not graceful then and I am not quiet. I am uncoordinated, a bit too loud, extremely talkative, very opinionated, fiery, as passionate about the planet as I am about good sourdough bread and the importance of cake with all the fat and sugar being part of a balanced diet. I am all of these things. I like these things about myself. But I am afraid for other people to really see them and me. Especially as I become more Tori and these things that make up who I am, multiply and take up just that much more room in this world. And there is more me available to the world. And yet, for so many years I have longed to do just that. If I could have any career right now, it would be motivational speaker. I feel like I must have a lot of ego to write that, but it is nonetheless true. If I could tell all my stories, my truths, my pains, share my shame, my suffering, my joys, my loves, my passions, my highest of highs on a stage, I’m pretty sure I would jump at the chance to do it, even if the audience is one.
As a child, we gradually stopped having people over to our house. We lived in a fixer upper and year by year just as many new projects got started as the ones that remained unfinished. As grandparents grew older and some of them died, our possessions grew. They took up space greater than the person who left them ever did and my grandfather George, he took up the whole room. I have always been surrounded by stuff and ‘mess.’ Out of embarrassment, my Mom who knew better than I did in my teens, encouraged me to go to friends houses instead of having them to ours. Gradually, no one came over, at least not without weeks or what felt like months notice so we could prepare and clean and hide the mess that we were.
“And isn’t the whole point of letting others into your life supposed to be that you get to be who you really are rather than who everyone else expects or even wishes or demands you be?” Emily Nunn, The Comfort Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart
This past summer after 8 months of living in a new city, in a new home, an incomplete one with little furniture, bare walls, 12 kinds of flour, 10 types of dried beans, a college bed that journeyed all the way from California to Montana that still lives like a college bed on the floor sans box spring, I decided to start letting people into my true messy life. I had been waiting for the perfect moment when everything was clean and done and organized and my home resembled more of the home I felt people expected and demanded of my successful white, middle class self. Instead, I invited people into my little dungeon as I lovingly call it (basement apartment with tiny windows in a state with loooong winter) without an apology for the state of things and the incompleteness of my life. Because I was missing the point and missing out on what I loved most–feeding people at my table.
Reading those words in that book that were previously followed by words about not having people in her new home because it was not ready yet (when are we ever ready for anything, especially anything really good?) I thought of this little home on the internet I’m trying to create and how the same concept basically applies. It is unfinished. It is as bare as the walls in my own home. It has no polish. It has no clearly defined purpose or mission. It has no format. It’s a passion project. It’s a place I hope becomes a home. Yes, I acknowledge that as public space I’m inviting a lot of people into my life who may have plenty of demands and expectations of me that I do not ask for. Those are not the people I am here to serve. They are not the people I write to or really care to join my table both virtual and real.
This space is for those who want to see who I really am and in return feel the freedom to be who they really are. Some days that will be easy to do. Others it will be muddled and confusing. It will be a mess.
Here is a recipe that’s as unfinished as my home on the web, my home in Montana, and as unfinished as I am as a person. I have been thinking about this ‘recipe’ for a month but it’s lack of precision and thus imperfection kept me thinking about it. I have not invited you to my table to eat a simple winter salad of beets and citrus because I was afraid that this all too real way I cook might not translate to your home. I was afraid it was lacking just like I’m afraid all to often that I am lacking. So, if you make this and you don’t like it or you find my lack of specifics frustrating, I am truly sorry about those things. But I’m also not sorry because this is how we learn to cook and sometimes there is so much freedom when formulas are guides and we can pick and choose how we borrow and enhance them for our own needs. The best things, relationships especially are born that way in my experience.
- 1-2 steamed or roasted beets, peeled. (I love the color of Chioggia and golden beets and often buy those because their vivid colors brighten even the dullest of winter days. I encourage you to do the same.
- 1 orange (blood or Cara Cara are my winter favorites) or a Grapefruit (depending on size, you may only need half the segments)
- a few gratings of citrus zest (feel free to use a mix)
- greens of choice (I love microgreens here or the small tender winter/spring lettuces like mycopia or mache that pop up even in Bozeman. Arugula is another great choice)
- maple syrup
- vinegar (apple cider is wonderful here, or white balsamic. When using lighter colored beets I avoid regular balsamic because it muddies their beautiful color, but it works in a pinch)
- good olive oil, or walnut oil or pumpkin seed oil
- herbs of choice, roughly chopped or torn (tarragon, mint or chives or all three)
- toasted nuts or seeds of choice (my favorites are pistachios and walnuts)
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- Depending on the size of your beets, quarter them or thinly slice on a mandolin or with a sharp knife. Depending on the day, I will vary the presentation of my beets because I have found that this small variation livens up my meals and the different cuts create different texture and therefore taste. Place cut beets in a small mixing bowl. Grate a few good shavings of your chosen citrus over the beets and set aside. Using a sharp knife, typically a paring knife, cut off the bottom of your citrus so that it sits flat on a cutting board. Working from the top cut ribbons of the peel away including the white pith exposing the beautiful citrus flesh. It’s ok if some of that flesh comes away with your sections of peel. Supreming citrus is a bit of an art and with practice you’ll end up with less flesh on your peel. I’ll warn you that supreming can feel like a tedious task but again with practice the movements will become second nature and you might even appreciate this slowing down and the attention this task requires. Once you have removed all the peel and white pith (if you removed too much of the flesh, do as I do and and suck that delicious fruit off the peel before discarding or squeeze those sections over your bowl of beets to release the juice), while holding the fruit in one hand and your knife in the other, cut each segment away from the remaining pith by making cuts as close to the pith as possible. Do this over your bowl of beets to capture any juice that escapes. Alternately, with really juicy oranges, especially smaller blood oranges that are ripe, I’ll cut them into rounds and pour any juice from the cutting board over the beets as I add the orange slices.
- Add a generous pinch of flake salt and a few grinds of pepper to your bowl. Add a splash of maple syrup, vinegar of choice and olive oil to your bowl and toss to combine. Taste and add more of anything you feel lacking. Add your chopped or torn herbs and toss again.
- Make a small bed of greens on a plate. Top with your beet citrus mix. Garnish with more herbs and nuts or seeds of choice. Enjoy!