My first apartment was a third floor walk up in the historic district of a small Virginia port city. On occasion, when I’d walk to work first thing in the morning, the streets hazy and shadowed, I could hear ships in the Elizabeth River sounding their fog horns – it was dreamy.
Expense is relative and subject to context and qualifiers, but my pay at aforementioned job covered rent, a few bills, and sometimes some peanut butter. I think that maybe the broke youth can subsist on hopes and dreams and other bullshit – other bullshit loosely defined as bad coffee, rice, and the occasional clove cigarette.
I can recall a Sunday afternoon during fall – a breeze rattling leaves along the sidewalk, sunlight pouring in the large, open windows – and, as charming as all that was in hindsight, I was grappling with the gravity of having mostly bare cupboards and a refrigerator that was full of just refrigerator. And why I always bought oatmeal, but never really liked it. So, I paced around weighing the likelihood of finding change in the cushions or under the car seats, or maybe waiting for the hunger pangs to pass. There was nothing to eat. No change to spend.
There’s always something.
Somethings, actually, and I found them: a carrot in the crisper (wasn’t crisp), an onion in the produce basket (borderline compost bin), partial bag of green beans in the freezer (freezer burnt and solidified), can of tomatoes (dent preventing can opener from opening), a box of jiffy mix (no eggs or milk), a container of grated parmesan (when did I buy this? Can bad cheese smell like good cheese and give you botulism?).
This miscellany could absolutely make way for an improvised minestrone and ghetto focaccia! And because I cannot simply call a recipe a “minestrone-ish bastardization of an Italian classic,” I called it “shit I found soup,” which is way classier.
So, I spent the evening curled up with my cat eating soup that was, quite literally, something pulled from nothing, and sub par focaccia that was more like a parmesan scone brick – and it was amazing. These individual little failures became something much greater and they warmed my chilly bones.
This soup also made tangible an ideology that I’d adhered to, rather subconsciously, for as long as I can remember: every little thing is exactly what you make it. Every situation, everything that is said to you, everywhere and anywhere you find yourself.
Perspective really goes an awfully long way. Misfortune is misadventure if you spin it right. Any disaster is an anecdote if you’re looking hard enough.
Shit I found soup is about finding the punch line, an anecdote, a philosophy and, incidentally, laughter.