“The days are long, but the years are short.” Gretchen Rubin wrote this is her book, The Happiness Project, and it really resonated with me.
It’s true. Every afternoon I spend clock-watching, thinking of how slowly time seems to be chugging along, lies in shocking opposition to how much time has passed since I first moved to Vancouver. I feel like I moved here yesterday, but I realize it’s been… almost 8 years. Wow. That’s almost a decade! What?! But that just happened.
Don’t even get me started about how, in a couple short years ’30 years ago’ will mean the 90’s. I still remember trying to describe ‘The Rachel’ to my hairstylist- that was like a dozen hairstyles ago! (None of which I could ever really pull off, the exception being that brief window at the turn of the millennium when ultra-ultra-straight hair was The Big Thing and, thankfully, is what my hair does naturally- whether I want it to or not. Ahhh, those were the days, that blink-of-an-eye when my hair was accidentally cool.)
(Now we’re into the ubiquitous straight-on-top-curls-on-bottom hair, which I still haven’t mastered… how do people curl their hair every morning? How does one curl the back of their head without burning their head/hands? How are you all so good at this?)
Wait- I started this post talking about happiness and the relativity of time and now I’m ranting about hair? Let’s backtrack a bit…
When I first moved to Vancouver, yesterday/years ago, I worked at a small print shop in Gastown. At the time, I was also enrolled in art school at Emily Carr University, so it was a great job in that I a) had extra flexible hours and b) gained critical graphic design and pre-press experience.
This being said, going to school full-time and working part-time meant I didn’t have much money. Being fresh to the city, I didn’t know many people or have many friends (it is a widely acknowledged fact that it is TOUGH to make new friends in this city). To make matters worse, I didn’t have many career advancing prospects outside of the ‘unpaid creative internships’ that were becoming more and more common.
Looking back, I should have been eating ramen noodles at home 24/7, but I didn’t. I ate out most days at the cafe across the street from the print shop. At the time, I rationalized this act of ‘treating myself’ as a survival tactic, a small light keeping me going when so much else seemed grim and/or tenuous at best.
Every couple days, I would go into the cafe and order the same thing- their mind-bafflingly delicious Lemon Pepper Pesto Panini and the Shirazi Salad. I still can’t figure out how to accurately recreate that panini- it’s one of my biggest foodie puzzles to date- but the shirazi salad, that was easier.
A classic shirazi salad is quite simple and, as the name suggests, originates from Shiraz, in southern Iran. Cucumber, tomato, onion, lemon. It’s sort of like an Iranian pico de gallo. Recipes vary, some using lime juice, vinegar or sour grape juice in place of lemon juice, but I like the simplicity and freshness of lemon. Salt, to bring out the flavours of the vegetables, and then a handful of fresh herbs- parsley and mint.
So often, it’s the simplest recipes that end up impressing me the most. A few good ingredients, combined to create something more than the sum of their parts. Wow.
Fresh, healthy, delicious, hydrating– this salad will get me through the entire summer.
Sense memory is powerful, so I still taste this salad and think of my afternoons in Gastown. I try not to look at those times through rose-coloured glasses, since I know they were… not the greatest. I can, however, look back and admire how far I have come. I pulled myself up, worked hard, and- eventually- carved out a little life for myself in this city.
Early twenties Finn, you did good, kid. I know you didn’t think you would make it, but you did. So, to anyone going through a similar struggle right now… Keep going. Work hard. Treat yourself. Life will never be without its bumps, but one day you will look back on these days and think ‘phew, I did it.’ You might even feel compelled to recreate a small slice of that time… like a salad.
|Shirazi Salad|| || |
- 1 large English cucumber or 5 small Persian cucumbers, diced
- 3 large tomatoes or 1 punnet grape tomatoes, diced
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ lemon, juice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomatoes and onion. Add parsley and mint and mix to incorporate.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Pour over cucumber mixture and toss to coat.