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A Letter to a Friend: The Joy of Dirty Dishes

[From a letter to a friend] I hate it when people leave, but I adore the silent hum and hush that fills the house after a happy evening with people you love. I spent my childhood sneaking peeks at my parents’ parties, trying to figure out where that magic comes from. To this day, I still haven’t been able to find the right word for it, but I know what it feels like. And I know how to spot the artifacts and fingerprints it leaves whispering in its wake. Empty wine bottles, corks here and there. Layers of plates stacked on top of one another. Plate, wadded up cocktail napkin, utensil. Plate, wadded up cocktail napkin, utensil.  Stacks of dirty dishes in the sink – and for just one night, nobody cares.

It fills the empty spaces between walls and floors, foundations and ceilings radiating with an almost palpable sense of aliveness.

It’s hard for me to imagine many other moments in life when I feel more acutely aware of the passing of time than in the hum and hush, alone at last, just me and the dirty dishes. These moments leave me feeling deeply blessed, wishing for a bigger dinner table…and more minutes, more years, more dinners, more cheers, more refills and popped corks and cups of coffee (I won’t drink) with dessert.

If I ever write a cookbook, I’m going to call it “The Joy of Dirty Dishes.”

And I will mean it.