My parents came for a few days earlier this month, and while I think my husband found the whole thing kind of bewildering, I was really grateful for their company. Even when my mother flagged down a waitress with a question of English etiquette and prefaced the question with, “We’re foreigners, so I just wanted to ask…” as if our sweetly flat Midwestern accents hadn’t made it immediately clear that we aren’t from Cambridge, I was glad to see them.
They flew in from France, where they had been vacationing, and immediately got to work: my mother and I went to the grocery, and then my dad and I made a lamb cassoulet. I was thrilled: I’ve been in a serious culinary rut and was sick of both preparing and eating pasta and eggs. I hadn’t cooked any meat since we’d moved to Cambridge and I never think to make anything with beans. The whole thing was a revelation.
The next day we spent the lion’s share of the afternoon moving furniture. I had imagined that we’d go to the Polar Museum (where I still haven’t been), maybe walk around the market, explore some of the old city….and we did, a little bit. We went to the Fitzwilliam Museum and I showed my mum Stourbridge Common and the Mill Road Cemetery. But mostly they cooked and rearranged furniture, and together they walked up and down Mill Road over a dozen times.
Although we had real food, real wine and real plates and glasses to put it on, we (still) haven’t managed to get the salt into a salt shaker. Things are still progressing slowly.