The Hunchbag of Maverick Square
We had planned a lovely weekend – dinner and a movie date on Friday, the Museum of Fine Arts and brunch on Saturday, and church and the Boston Public Library on Sunday. All of those plans changed when sickness hit our home, and I wouldn’t change it for the world (although I’m sure Chris would disagree).
As many of you know, I work from home. I spend most of my days in our two-bedroom apartment and only generally leave to go on a coffee adventure or to get dinner with my husband. However, on the weekends, we are never here. We spend the whole time exploring our new city.
But this weekend was different. Besides one solo expedition, our greatest adventure together was traveling down the elevator to check the mail.
When we arose Saturday morning, the cough in his throat and congestion in his voice evidenced we needed a weekend of healing. My domesticity levels rose to their highest levels, and I made him stay on the couch. I quickly researched the best homemade chicken noodle soup recipes and discovered a slew of home remedies to try.
The only problem………
We don’t have a car. The nearest grocery store is about a half mile away, and we had zero ingredients for the soup. I considered Instacart, but decided I wanted to shop on my own and hand-pick the ingredients for my “get well” soup.
So I bundled up in my white sweatshirt, thickest yoga pants, tennis shoes, sock cap, gloves and parka for my winter jaunt to the grocery store.
The wind nearly blew me over as I stepped outside, yet I retained the smile on my face and continued forward. East Boston is known for its diversity and culture. I passed families eating brunch and mothers holding their children’s hands as the entered the subway station. A band played outside of the station and people gathered around to dance. The neighborhood was alive.
As I approached my first stop – Marshall’s, I walked past a children’s center and a blood drive van was parked outside. Several individuals approached me with a smile. They asked if I would donate blood for the children’s hospital. I don’t actually weigh enough to donate blood, so I had to say no to the children. That wasn’t easy! However, because I stopped to talk to the team, I was given a bag of candy. Maggi, the leader of the group prayed with me, and I fell in love a little bit more with my community.
Once I finally arrived at Marshall’s, I walked straight to the beauty section, found a package of essential oils that included lavender and a cold/sinus remedy. Then I snagged the last diffuser. The plan was to use these to help Chris breath.
I quickly left as to not buy anymore items I had to carry home, and walked the three more minutes to the grocery store. As I walked toward the carts, a friendly older lady helped me pull the stuck carts apart. We each took one and wished each other a great day.
It had been a month since I stepped into a grocery store, and I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it. The chaotic deli lines, perfectly lined rows of fruit, freshly baked breads, row after row of food choices, I felt home.
I pulled my hand-written list from my pocket and started filling my cart. As I placed each item into it, I was both thrilled to have something new and apprehensive about carrying it home. Either way, I was able to gather all the appropriate ingredients and a few extra treats.
After spending some time in the check-out aisle, I bagged all of the plastic bags into my single large tote bag and shoved my cart into the rest. I heaved the 15+ pound bag over my right shoulder, lifting it on top of my back and began my journey home.
Like Quasimodo, I staggered down Maverick Square with my “hunchbag” of groceries. With a numb arm and a limp, I struggled into our apartment complex and up the elevator. I was quickly greeted with a smiling Christopher and the whole journey was worth it.
I filled the house with essential oils, covered a hot rag with lavender and made my husband lay on the couch while I chopped up two whole, raw chickens. My yoga pants sustained an injury as I scaled the cabinets to grab the stock pot. The whole in my pants revealed a bruise on my knee too.
After the chicken was deconstructed, I placed the pieces into the stock pot, along with several bay leaves, salt, pepper, garlic and four quarts of water. As I left that to simmer for 45 minutes, I chopped up carrots and onions and celery. Then I picked all the meat off the chicken bones and left the bones to simmer in the water for another hour. After that, I added all the seasonings, all the chicken meat, all the veggies and all the noodles. When thirty minutes had passed, I added a flour/water mixture to the soup to thicken it. Instead of thick broth, I accidentally made a few dumplings.
I can’t explain the joy it brought to serve my husband a fresh bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. If you know me at all, this was a strange feeling. Domesticity doesn’t come natural and usually makes me feel uncomfortable. However, after having a weekend to take care of my husband who is normally wildly independent, I felt like I was finally able to make a home in our new apartment. I felt like the kitchen was mine for a few days and that I was needed. It felt great to tap into these care-taking instincts and try to help the person I love feel better.
Not only did this weekend make me feel more connected to my community, it helped me feel more connected to my instincts. Sometimes it takes something like a sick weekend to realize the simple joys of slowing down and being attentive to the needs of others.