While I Was Sleeping

December 21, 2010 § 1 Comment

“He would get these far-off looks in his eyes and he would say ‘Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan’. I just wish I’d realized at the time, he was talking about MY life.”


That’s a quote from an old classic. Well, I considered it a classic for a time anyway. It’s the 1995 film While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. I was reminded of it because it takes place around the holiday season, and I really want to revisit some Christmas cinema. (I don’t particularly want to revisit Bill Pullman’s hair though. I couldn’t stand his hair, the way he tossed it around all the time.) I thought of Lucy (Sandra Bullock) as I stared out the airplane window yesterday. I unwrapped my “plane food” (the delectable morsels in the drawing above and photos below): Coconut Chocolate Cookies. I unwrapped them from their tinfoil and bit into one. I’m flying through the heavens, surrounded by clouds, and I’m in heaven with these cookies. They were the last batch of cookies I baked while in Toulouse. I was looking for a big bag of sweetened coconut flakes. You know the kind: super-moist and perfect for macaroons and different sweet breads. I visited my local Casino Supermarket, but could only find this very-fine, sawdust-esque coconut. It turned out to be ideal when combined with the very rich butter and dark chocolate squares. Strange. I photographed these cookies (the last three that survived the 15 hours of travel between Toulouse, Brussels, Chicago, and Minneapolis) in the kitchen of my folks’ Lake Elmo home. And they were made in a small kitchen in an apartment in Toulouse.

The French kitchen: dim and full of tea light candles. Cold tiles. Miscellaneous kitchen accoutrement. Dishes and wooden spoons that didn’t match. There was a gazinière (gas oven) that baked a mean batch of coconut-chocolate cookies. And I had my ever-willing, enthusiastic cookie-taster at my beck and call. I left my cookie-taster when I left Toulouse. (Insert sad-face emoticon here.)

The above photo was taken Bar du Matin in the Carmes quartier of the city. It was one of our last apéros together before my flight home for the holidays. Walking in the chilly Toulousian streets, we pass pedestrians carrying sacs of Christmas cadeaux, stands selling roasted chestnuts and Nutella slathered waffles. In Place du Capitole, we look up at the nearly full moon and X told me there was going to be a lunar eclipse in the next couple of days.

I was really excited! It was slated to happen the day after I left France. But you know what?

I slept right through it. When I arrived home last night, coconut crumbs clinging to my clothes and chocolate in the corners of my mouth, the fatigue of travel hit me with the force of a Minnesota blizzard, and I fell into a deep sleep.

“Do you believe in love at first sight? Nah, I betcha don’t, you’re probably too sensible for that. Or have you ever, like, seen somebody? And you knew that, if only that person *really* knew you, they would, well, they would of course dump the perfect model that they were with, and realize that YOU were the one that they wanted to, just, grow old with. Have you ever fallen in love with someone you haven’t even talked to? Have you ever been so alone you spend the night confusing a man in a coma?” (While You Were Sleeping)

I don’t remember what I dreamed of, but I woke up around 5 in the morning, ate one of my last coconut cookies, drank a cup of coffee, and marveled at the oddity of place-shifting. How strange to spend one day with feet planted on European soil, then–to pick those feet up, carry them over an ocean, and plop them down in 3 feet of Minnesota snow. How strange that the sun, the moon, and the earth can align and paint the moon pink. How sad and strange to sleep through something like that. To think of all that occurs and continues to occur while your eyes are shut.

Deep thoughts inspired over a coco-choco cookie. Thoughts: blurred, refracted, flavored with sawdust coconut and chocolate–hurled between the sun, the moon, Europe and America. And, most strange of all–echoes of Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman in the background.

Peter once asked me when I fell in love with Jack. And I told him, “It was while you were sleeping.”


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