There's nothing more humbling than finding you're living out a big flaming cliché, although it (of course) feels like you are the first person to have this experience in all of history. Five years ago, my coming-out cliché hit me like a ton of rubyfruit. I fell in love with my lady therapist.
The crush snuck up on me, but as soon as it curled itself around me like a cat, I succumbed. The hothouse play-by-play is disclosed in my new Seal Press memoir,Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity, but at the point that this excerpt begins, I've left my husband, terminated the therapy relationship with hopes that it will transform into something else, and am both rebuilding my life and chasing my shrink like a besotted female version of Pepe le Pew...
Céline invited me to come to her meditation center. I of course read into this. I told myself that she didn't just want to turn me on to a spiritual practice -- she wanted to engage with me in a non-therapeutic setting. And on those Wednesdays, I put all of my newly underutilized culinary energy into cooking dinner for the entire group, although the true fire burning in my loins, that is, tongs, was the desire to woo Céline, to nurture and pleasure her, with mouthfuls of food.
But as it was for a vegetarian community, I was forced to work within those boundaries. No demi-glace, no chicken broth, no bacon fat. Since I worked at the office all day, I turned to the slow cooker to create food that seemed unhurried, attentively made.
Tuesday evenings had me shopping for ingredients, Wednesday mornings had me chopping and sautéeing. I used the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook and made French White Bean and Cabbage Soup (a.k.a. garbure), Moroccan-Style Lentil and Chickpea Soup, French Onion Soup, Three-Bean Chili with Chive-Flecked Cornmeal Dumplings. I also pulled from the urbane, girlfriends-y The New Basics, which my friend Marijane swore by.
Céline gave me lots in return: With each bite, she closed her eyes and sighed or very faintly moaned with pleasure. She then opened her eyes, lowered her head, and smiled, looking at me through her lashes as if to say, Oh, no you didn't.
I think I brought forth the most attenuated moans from her heaving chest when I served an olive oil-lavender honey cake with fresh whipped cream. I saw her mouth spasm with pleasure and her shoulders curl inward.
And when I found a recipe for a lavender honey-yogurt refrigerator pie, I decided that would be my next dessert. Except the store was out of lavender honey. So I chose the chai honey and had the whole group practically on their knees. Chai honey-yogurt icebox pie -- at a meditation center. Not a sliver was left.
It was one of the most satisfying food gigs of my life. After years of feeling overly responsible for dinner every night, I was cooking only once a week, for a deeply appreciative crowd, and I was also cooking to seduce Céline, and I got to stick around to watch her flail with pleasure.
But after that, I went home to an empty house and knew I wouldn't see Céline until the following week, unless we bumped into each other. So I went searching for gay women in a city that didn't have a single gay bar. Online dating was a must. I picked out a photo, wrote what I hoped was fetching copy, and uploaded it.
My Match profile began to attract its fair share of winks, emails, and so on, which felt good --although women were usually reticent regarding my "separated" and "two kids" status. Who would ever want to take a chance on me?
With Céline, I was like the a teenage girl who brings cookies to every gathering because she feels insecure about just showing up without sweets. And there I was living out another gay cliché: coming out really did feel like a second adolescence. In order to come into my own, I would have to grow out of and transcend both clichés. Luckily, I did.
[adapted/excerpted from Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity (Seal Press, November 2012]