Love, Marriage & Pudding
recipe for Chocolate Espresso Chia Pudding
For the first time in possibly my whole life, the shorter days and longer nights aren’t disturbing me. This year has felt a bit rocky, and the last month especially unstable on every life level. It’s been a fire on all fronts, emotionally, mentally, personally, and professionally, so perhaps that’s why the demand from nature to slow down is welcome.
I find it much easier to push away from my work laptop at 5:30pm, knowing there’s only an hour left of daylight. Come December I may not feel this sense of calm when the sun sets just shy of 4:30pm, but for now I’m enjoying it.
In a rare moment for Matthew and I, we had almost four days together last week. Long distance relationships are a challenge. Long distance marriages are a whole other beast. I often joke that I always want us to maintain separate residences. I’m a solitary creature, most closely identifying with a cat in terms of levels of need and self-sufficiency. Something clicked last week during our time, observing Yom Kippur together for the first time. I felt less inclined towards my cat-like tendencies, and Matthew seemed more understanding of my need for space.
In the middle of the night on Monday, I stirred from my sleep, waking from the most vivid dream. It was the first time Michael had come to visit in a few years. Many of the last dreams were fraught with anxiety, or me seeing him but not being able to reach him.
This dream was the kind every widow longs for. No angst. No sadness. It was just a normal moment, both of us waking up. He got out of bed, and was standing in our old bedroom doorway, looked back at me still snuggled in bed and said, “love you”. I replied back, “love me, love me”? He said, “love you, love you”.
And then poof, I was stirred awake. It took me a few seconds to realize it was a dream but when I did get my bearings, I sleepily snuggled closer to Matthew, feeling content. I woke from the safety of my dream with Michael to the reality of my life with Matthew, a life that’s also safe in all the best senses of the word.
Marriage is hard, and the better part of this year has seen us working through a lot of issues, sometimes feeling like there was no breathing room. On reflection, it felt like an obstacle course of issues that directly affected our relationship, yet we were navigating the course separately instead of together.
In that moment waking up, I felt such a sense of calm as we were about to head into the Yom Kippur high holiday. In our almost six years with each other, we’d never experienced Yom Kippur services together, nor been together during the fast. For context, Matthew is a person who generally needs coffee in the morning to string words together in a coherent manner. There is no morning coffee on Yom Kippur.
We attended all three services together, a total of 8 hours, snuggled under a blanket in the tent of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation with wind blowing through the sides and rain pouring down. Virtual services in the comfort of home were an option but each time we gathered the energy to get in the car, drive 25 minutes, and contend with the weather. Deep down we knew attending in person is what we needed, what our relationship needed.
I watched older couples around us who have decades of memories together. In the past this would’ve made me sad, thinking about our relationship from the viewpoint of starting over in life. By time we got to the Neilah service, the last one which closes out Yom Kippur, all I found myself thinking about was how we’ll be one of those sweet old couples one day–maybe snuggled under blankets, braving the elements to attend services, or maybe it’ll finally be indoor services. Whatever the forecast, we’ll be weathering it together.
There’s no subtle way to segue between what I just wrote and chia pudding. The connection isn’t obvious to anyone outside the inner workings of my brain. Matthew is in London this week for work. The usual feelings of missing him always feel deeper when he’s not in his usual home 68 miles away. While grocery shopping the other evening, I walked past the Swiss Miss pudding display in the dairy aisle and it made me smile, thinking of him because he loves the milk chocolate flavor. I remembered this chia seed pudding recipe was one of the many in the backlog of recipes I’ve worked on to share with you all, and so here it is. That is how my brain connects all the little dots of my life.
I ordered a recipe for cafe au lait overnight oats in a recent Marley Spoon order but decided not to make it, remembering that no matter how many times I try them, I just don’t like overnight oats. I do love chia pudding, though, so I used some of the ingredients from the meal kit, supplemented with items in my own cupboard, to make this chocolate chia espresso pudding. The intent was to make them for an easy grab & go breakfast but in the end they proved to be a fuss-free lunch option in between zoom calls.
Eat them whatever time of day you like. Be well, and remember to be kind. –xo, j.
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