The first time I said this to Danny, a few months ago, he looked at me with confusion in his eyes. He’s used to my strange pronouncements by now. However, he doesn’t know Walt Whitman’s poems the way I do. The summer I turned 30, I exulted on the streets of New York City, my head exploding with poems. I lived in New York for the summer, thanks to a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study the poems of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman at Columbia. My life has never been the same.
I’ve always leaned toward Whitman, given his exuberance and joy for life, his delight in sensual pleasures and celebration of his rough edges, his resounding yes and his unflinching details. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” I think of that line nearly every day. Someday, I’ll teach it to my kids to let them know that nothing in life is that simple. I adore Emily Dickinson but I never had her restraint. Me? I’m a Whitman girl.
So I know that Walt Whitman published six editions (or maybe nine, if you include the smaller revisions) of the same book. Leaves of Grass is the only book of poems he ever wrote. The first edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1855, contained 12 poems. The last, published in 1892, contained 400 poems. And in those intervening years, Whitman returned to his earlier poems and changed them, tightened lines, and added nuance. His early work became something even more alive for all that he had lived, which changed the cadence of those poems he once wrote, then found not good enough for his later self.
Yesterday, we held an event at our kitchen studio, the first public event in that space. We had been looking forward to it for quite awhile.
I haven’t said much about our studio here, even though I put up photos on Instagram occasionally. This summer, Danny and I started renting a space for our work. We still dig each other after nearly 8 years of knowing each other, but working from home together was growing a little tiresome. It turns out we’re more productive if we’re forced to change out of our pajamas and go to work. So we found a beautiful space on a 10-acre farm on Vashon, a big room with tall ceilings, lots of windows, and a kitchen. Since then, we’ve been testing recipes for our next cookbook and this site, painting the walls white, and planning. We have plans.
I’ll tell you more about those plans soon.
But the past few days, we have been moving boxes and decorating shelves, rounding up white plates, and finally truly moving into this space we love.
Time to have a party.
I love that hush and rush the hour or two before a party, bustling around cleaning, laying out plates, arranging flowers. If everything works, it’s going to be a space filled with laughter soon.
We were ready. Finally. Time.
Quickly, the room filled with good people. They walked through the front door, couple after couple, clutching tickets in their hands, ready to be there. Some of them were people whose work I knew. (The guy on the left is Stephan Guyenet, who writes Whole Health Source, one of my favorite science and food blogs.) They sipped on kombucha from Communitea Kombucha. They listened to our landlord talk about the grass-fed beef and pastured-pork meat company he runs from Vashon. (Midlife Crisis Farms! They sell at the Vashon farmers’ market, and soon, at our studio.) They talked with each other and waited to talk with our man of the hour.