I did bake the perfect lasagna on my birthday. Layers of beef and mushroom in tomato sauce, firm whole-wheat lasagna pasta, and heavenly, butter-fragrant béchamel sauce. If my day wasn’t as spectacular as I had initially hoped it would be, the lasagna saved me from my depressive habit of staying in bed all day, hidden under the covers. Chopping the onions and the garlic was therapeutic, grating the cheese and slicing the whole mushrooms was curative. I found myself staring at the raw lasagna pasta for several minutes, admiring their classical, wavy edges. And when I started sautéing the spices in melted butter, my mood abruptly skyrocketed to Valhalla, and I didn’t mind that I was in fact standing for two straight hours- simultaneously checking the pasta, tasting the sauce, and adding the dried herbs.
Due to financial constraints, I chose not to throw a party for my friends; and since my birthday is sandwiched between three non-working holidays, I surmised my lovely friends to be out of town, happily taking advantage of the long, indolent days of Halloween. A number of thoughtful people greeted me, and a few forgot to do so, although those who forgot greeted me after a day or two, plus some lengthy apologies on their temporary bout of amnesia. No, I did not get drunk that night, the only stuff I drank were water and cola, and judging by the way the cosmos has been joking with me lately, getting drunk would sound too depressing. But I can’t help thinking that my birthday this year has been relatively absurd; the night before I was too happy to even sleep (the reason of which I never understood), and the following day, I had to alternate between being happy, shocked, disappointed, indifferent, depressed, upset, and then ultimately at peace. But the fact that I lost no sleep over the twisted turn of events on my birthday is something else. Perhaps I have become less captive to the futile anxieties that have always made up a huge part of my existence, and well, that is something else.
So as I have mentioned, the lasagna was a blast. Mom ate her plateful without saying much, except, “We should have this on the Christmas menu”. Chad kept nudging me for the recipe, and as a reply I’d keep silent, hoping to prolong his impatience. My brother wanted me to cook another layer for the Halloween, to which I declined because honestly, standing for two hours over some pasta dish is not something I’d want to do again anytime soon. Everybody went to bed happy and full, even when the lights temporarily went out in the course of dinner, and even when I didn’t blow any candles on the creamy mango cake my sister brought later in the evening. Of course, there shall be more blackouts in the future, but there will also be many candles to be lighted and many more to be put out on many birthday nights to come. And in the meantime, I’m so looking forward to them. 🙂