This is a sour cherry recipe because this was a sweet but painful goodbye.
I quit my job after four years because I had a plan, a good plan. For me, it was the perfect plan. For me, it felt like I had FINALLY tapped into my passion after a lifetime of searching, and I was FINALLY going to start my real life, having resisted and then trudged my way into the desk job workforce after college, where I made a decent living and lived half-heartedly.
The plan was to move to south Portugal - where this past spring I became certified in permaculture design (following principles of ecological sustainability and making an existence largely off-the-grid, using agricultural practices that both provide food and renew the biosphere) - live on the land, cook meals that I grew from seeds, completely disconnect except for sharing words and pictures here, and develop a relationship with the guy who was encouraging me to come back.
After six months of preparation which involved quitting and leaving everything in my life, this plan, this ideal personal trajectory that I had worked so hard for and that had me convinced that the entire universe was conspiring to help me become an earth momma farmer, fell through a few days before I was set to fly out. My partner told me not to come, for his own personal reasons.
I thought I had experienced great emotional pain in my life. I’ve known a few of the worst assholes to ever step foot in New York, which is saying a lot, and they destroyed me in uniquely cruel ways. But no, I hadn’t known this kind of pain.
It hit me in two waves. First, my precious life plan was ripped up into tiny pieces and thrown in my face. I had been walking around like I was better than everyone because I was going to exit the machine and do exactly what I wanted AND save the world AND create amazing art. Now my heart pounded savagely in shock and then leapt out of my chest. My lungs imploded. I burst into aching sobs and clawed at the walls. I told myself I was dreaming and tried to wake myself up, over and over again. All the fragile hope I had been growing inside of me was dead.
Then, I had to go through a breakup. I had strong feelings for this guy, and whether or not he had them for me, we had some particularly wonderful days together, and we made a great team. I showed him my entire life, so now everything reminds me of him, but that longing, happy hope, that feeling I had that I had found someone that could make me a better person, that’s dead too.
No job, no apartment, no one waiting with open arms, bruised faith, but still, a choice to be made: keep going, or give up. I’m going. I’m rebuilding, again. When I’m faced with even more acute pain in the future, I’ll have to get up again. And again. Pain is a sour cherry. Bitterness amplifies sweetness. My new path is taking me to Sri Lanka and then India. I'm writing this on a plane, above the clouds, and I can see the stars. I have a one-way ticket and I'm figuring out today. Tomorrow, I will figure out tomorrow. And really, my new path is the same as my old path, but instead of my carefully planned dream escape life, instead of the guy that I thought was my missing piece, there’s only me. And I’m already whole, and it’s perfect.
Sour cherrY thumbprint cookies
Recipe by Sarah Britton, substitutions of sour cherries and brazil nuts by me
125 g (1 cup) sour cherries, pitted
1/2 tbsp and 2/3 cup maple syrup, separated
1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
300 g (3 cups) rolled oats
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
45 g (1/3 cup) raw brazil nuts, roughly chopped
Make the jam. Blend the sour cherries and 1/2 tbsp maple syrup in a food processor until smooth. With the food processor running, pour in chia seeds slowly until fully incorporated. Chill mixture in fridge until it has gelled, at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Grind 250 g (2 1/2 cups) oats in the (clean) food processor until it is a rough flour. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add remaining oats, arrowroot powder, and sea salt. Stir to combine.
Melt the coconut oil and maple syrup together in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking to blend. Add the vanilla and whisk once more.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped brazil nuts.
Wet your hands, then roll the dough into golf ball-sized balls, and space an inch apart on the baking sheets. Use your thumb to make a deep indent in each cookie, and spoon in jam to fill the hole to the top.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.