It’s a scary thing to admit: “I’m happy.” It’s as if the world is listening from behind the curtain and when the words are emitted from our mouths, finally, the world starts plotting ways to tear down that state of mind. It’s like, when everything is going so well, you know there must be something around the corner, bound to happen, because everything is just too good to be true; too content. Does this ever happen to you; when you sit down, take a deep breath, and really think about happiness, the pesky past creeps up and reminds you of the sadness that still sits inside you? I sometimes feel that way, but as I sit here on my cream colored couch, an April sun shedding light throughout my studio, Blake Shelton sprawled beside me with his head lazily against my thigh, and I, fresh out of the shower in my turquoise bathrobe eating Starburst jellybeans and thinking about what to make for dinner and basking in the fact that I have the night to myself after a long day of work, feel the happiest I have been in a very long time. And I get these little shots of pure joy every now and then since moving here in Keene, and they feel like actual shots of alcohol being injected into my body and I all of a sudden have a fire inside me; when I am turning the corner off of Water St. and onto Main St. and its packed with families and dogs enjoying the weather, or sitting at Margaritas in the orange light, bright blue tiled tables, laughing and venting over work related things with my coworkers and shoving guacamole in my mouth, meeting Gabby at Brewbakers for caramel iced coffees, and anticipating the summer months; endless hiking trips and visits to Pisgah park to tan on the rocks and swim in the lake, or often, driving back from Target and seeing Mount Monadnock in the distance, or putting groceries away, making late night pancakes with Jennica, the noise of the roundabout outside the kitchen window, discovering and learning about new things in the area through my work; the rich culture, the art, the music, the artisans, the people; seeing the Kiltmaker license plate of the woman I interviewed about her legendary kilt making while driving around, or walking home from work and opening the door to see Blake Shelton waiting for me underneath the door, the shadow of his paw extending into the hall, and many other moments I am forgetting in my deep thought. These moments; the reason I felt I needed to stay here, there reason I am here, the reason I fall in love with Keene everyday, feel grateful, and happy.
And aside from the negative feelings in the area that have risen due to the final rejection for a license to have PumpkinFest this year, I don’t believe I could love a town as much as I have so much respect and love for Keene, besides Florence, which is a city, of course.
And so, lately, everyone has been asking me more than ever, “Are you happy here?” “Are you enjoying your new place?” “How is your apartment?”
And I say, “I’m probably the happiest I have been in a long time.” And that feels really special.
In the aftermath of paying bills this week, I have been unable to go grocery shopping, but my goal is to try and use up every little thing in my apartment before I go again. This includes oatmeal and a family size box of Cheerios. Tonight I was able to find some quinoa, a can of diced tomatoes, and chicken that had been marinating in my homemade balsamic vinaigrette since the morning. I used a frying pan, but would use a pot next time to cook the quinoa better. This dish could definitely be jazzed up, but it’s a simple and quick meal that involved ingredients most would have hidden in the back of the cabinet.
For the quinoa you will need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup quinoa
Salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste.
Heat pot with olive oil and add in chopped garlic. Let sauté for a few minutes , then add broth, tomatoes, and quinoa. Cover and let boil until ring has emerged around all the quinoa. Add salt, pepper, and spices to your liking and remove from heat (add water if quinoa is not cooked all the way through. The quinoa will absorb all of the liquid, it is quite magical; but the key is to covering the pot.)
A la chicken:
Marinate chicken for a day in plastic bag with a good amount (use you best judgment) of homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Cook chicken in small frying pan with a dab of olive oil or butter.
Spoon the quinoa into a bowl and add chicken to the top.
Cuddle up with cat and watch three seasons of The Office. And, don’t forget to be grateful. If you love everything you have, you have everything you need.