You say, You’re different here. You’re better, happier. Brighter — and we’re sitting at the table after friends have left, sharing another bowl of butter beans with bacon over rice.
I am, I say. I’m definitely happier here — it’s home, y’know?
More than that, though, you say. You seem more comfortable here. More social? I mean, I always knew you liked people, so maybe it’s because I get to see you more here because we’re closer, or I don’t know. I’m glad it is, whatever it is.
I smile at that because it’s nice to feel seen, and it’s true — Brooklyn is home, and I am more comfortable, more at ease here. It’s not just the city, though, but the people — it’s not that I didn’t have friends out in LA, but my community there wasn’t as built-out or as expansive as my community out here is. Even though I knew that before I moved back, I was still so anxious that maybe I was just making it up in my head, deluding myself into believing that I had people out here at all — it had been two years since I last lived here, and wouldn’t people have moved on, found new people, forgotten about me?
I was afraid of encountering the same loneliness I’ve felt my whole life again, afraid because Brooklyn’s supposed to be home, but what if I was expecting too much, wanting too much?
And so, it’s been a surprise to discover that, no, I wasn’t making it up in my head. I have community here, and, since I’ve been back, I’ve been seeing that community grow. Brooklyn is home, not only because it is the city that is most familiar to me, the city where I feel most known, but also because here is where my people are — and I am, as ever, so grateful for the people in my life. I am grateful for the people who have stayed in my life. I am grateful for new people in my life. I am grateful for the people who will be in my life.
Where’d you learn to make this? you ask as we’re cleaning up, and you’re washing the dishes as I spoon leftovers into a Tupperware container.
On a food blog. I don’t really read it, but I was scrolling through when I saw this recipe for butter beans with bacon, and I was intrigued. I’d never heard of butter beans; I always only knew them as lima beans … but butter beans are such a better name, though. Anyway, I made it once and loved it, so now it’s an essential comfort food dish.
It’s a good one.
It’s a simple one, too, simpler because I make everything out of cans. The butter beans come from cans; the diced tomatoes with hatch chiles come from cans; and the chicken stock (low-sodium) comes from cartons. The bacon does not, and neither does the garlic or the shallot, but it’s nothing difficult to mince garlic or dice a shallot or chop up some bacon.
Even if I had the time, I doubt that I would go through the work of getting dried beans, resuscitating them, and then cooking them. I don’t know that the dish would have the same texture it does with fresh tomatoes. The whole point of the dish, to me at least, is that it is simple — it is comfort food when I need it, and part of that exists in its simplicity and ease.
(The thing that has surprised me most about moving back to Brooklyn is the sheer intensity with which I miss my dog.)