We were in Iceland for the last two weeks of May. It was the fastest I have ever fallen in love with a place. From the moment my lungs first filled with Iceland’s sea air that smelled like the earth and tasted better than anything I have ever eaten, I knew I was in love. We were explorers. We found glaciers, sea birds, volcanoes, seals, and so many waterfalls that at a certain point we no longer pointed them out to each other. We took waterfalls for granted. Iceland focuses your attention on our earth. It is hard to think about anything else. It is so big, and makes you feel so small. You are confronted with a land that didn’t have to endure humans until very recently. I thought a lot about death, but not in a morbid way. I mostly wondered why the earth isn’t enough. Why do we have to imagine heaven when it is enough for me to know that I will dissolve into a rock, a tree, an arctic tern. I am forever. I thought a lot about entering the earth, communing—sliding into the crevasse of a glacier, burrowing into ash, letting moss grow over me. Iceland does this to you, if you are doing it right. Even in Reykjavik, metropolis of 120,000 people, spring water falls from the faucet in your smartly designed hotel room. The puffin still appears. The lamb you saw grazing on a hill is served on a plate and tastes of the land you explored. It is easy to access the pleasures of Earth in Iceland. It was all we had to do.

We flew back home after Memorial Day weekend to news that everyone in Chicago had been shot. At least it felt that way, though we all know that it isn’t white people being shot in Chicago. Chicago, my troubled homeland, felt like a particularly difficult place to be. We sat in traffic. We read depressing political news. The streets smelled like garbage and car exhaust. I struggled to drink the water coming out of our tap because now it just tastes like chlorine. Bryan and I were short with each other and easily frustrated. It was an acute version of the post-vacation blues, but also something more.

On Sunday a lot of people were murdered in a nightclub by one of our fellow citizens. He murdered people because they were gay or danced with gay people. In the aftermath of the shooting I have watched politicians, who have spent their entire careers trying to destroy gay people, relieved to turn the conversation to Islamic extremism to avoid having to express false sorrow. I’ve wondered about all of the prayers being directed at the victims. Churches are often the first community to reject us for our sexual preference. Families were supposed to be in our thoughts, another group that often turns us out. I wonder how many victims were outed to their families as a result of this tragedy? How many parents received the news of their child’s death after years of estrangement? I also wondered about my own safety and the safety of my husband and friends. These are morbid thoughts.

I’ve thought a lot about hate, too. I’ve lost track of what we are all talking about when we use the word. I wish language was more precise. Hating injustice is different than hating gay people. It’s not all bad. I get confused because some people call their hate “religion” or “patriotism”.

Of course I know that Iceland isn’t really a utopia, it has its own set of problems. But as a visitor it was for a couple of weeks. I didn’t worry about much and tried to just feel and exist and enjoy. I called my best friend halfway through the trip and she said it sounded like a spiritual journey, I don’t know about that but it was something. It reminded me that we don’t have to accept the things we don’t like. There actually are better ways. We can create a new world. It also reminded me of the privilege I have in my life. It is almost unfathomable my privilege in the context of our world. I do not have the right to be as complacent as I sometimes am. It is unforgivable.

Some of you like to remind me that this is supposed to be a food blog. You’d prefer I “stick to food”. I have no patience for that line of thinking. And besides, when did I ever? I don’t think we deserve an escape. Your privilege in being able to read food blogs needs to come with the price of not forgetting. I provide occasional reminders.

Our kitchens are, in many ways, the most vital and important space for political discourse. We learn at the kitchen table, we argue, we affirm, we try to figure things out. We imagine the world we want and start creating it in our homes. We have a better chance of convincing someone who sits down to dinner. There is a lot of work to do. There are children to educate and friends to inspire. The revolution starts at the kitchen table, not in the voting booth. The future holds the possibility of freedom, the past does not. There is no Again.

Iceland is fading for me. It is already getting hard to recall how I felt there. I want to return, but more than that I want to help create a world from which nobody needs an escape—where we don’t need to be waiting for vacation, or a revolution, or heaven. The next few months are important for our country. We need to act. We will win.

75 comments to “Here”

  1. Jennifer Q says:

    June 14th, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Your blog, your voice. Keep teaching.

    Welcome home.

  2. This is the reason I love reading blogs. The raw honest voice and personal thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

    This post is one of the most beautiful articles I have read in a while. I found myself wanting to run to Iceland and then mourning the sad state of things with the shooting. It is illegal to be gay in my home country. Sad state of things.

  3. I lurk here. I don’t think I’ve ever commented. Your voice, your way with words, brings me back weekly to read, re-read. It is more than about food. You reveal your mind and spirit. I’m hurting over the violence over the weekend. I cannot imagine what the family and friends of those who died and those injured are carrying. I’m older than you, a woman whose parents raised me, many decades back, with extra ‘dads.’ I’m closing in on 60, and haven’t many of those men left. Many died of old age, fortunately. Some died of AIDS, along with friends my age, many years back; some died of violence only because of their orientation. I miss them all, but wish especially I did not have a memory of losing one of my extra dads when I was 13, because he was in Florida – that state again but not the only one – and showed interest in the wrong man. A slap would have been enough; even a punch. One day, perhaps due to this national shame and sorrow, children will not hear, know, of such, of murder. I need that hope. There are ways to escape from all this on the internet, but your voice is a strong one. Thanks for using it.

  4. I love this post. Thank you!

  5. Just want to say I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here. I always appreciate reading your words, and can’t fathom that anyone would ask you to stick to food. These are really dark, sad, scary times, and the pain has been unrelenting lately. It’s so hard to stay angry about injustice and keep love and compassion in our hearts at the same time. Just want to send a virtual hug to you and your loved ones.

  6. Beautiful, Tim. Beautiful. Keep writing. Your thoughts, on any topic, inform us all in wonderful ways. And hold on to the joy of Iceland. Thank you so much. Dena

  7. I hope you win too… From the outside I watch the US in puzzlement and sadness…so many wonderful people I know through their words online, and some in real life as well, but so much anger and fear from those who could be inspiring people to be their best rather than encouraging their worst instincts…

  8. I just wanna say thank you, Tim. The observation and acknowledgement of how contrasted the world is through travel is the best way to constantly educate oneself about the state of things. I can relate to coming back home from extensive travels like yours, only to get a sudden sense of helplessness and frustation. But it’s good to see that there are places where something more “pure” has a justified existence, like in Iceland.

    Chicago, Orlando….The gun culture is out of control. Please stop this violence.

  9. Wonderful post.

  10. Hi Tim. I follow several food blogs but yours I like most. Not only as you post delicious recipes; it is also BECAUSE you do not stick to food only.
    Again you found perfect words to inspire, motivate, develop. This time our approach to life; next time it will be our cooking pleasures again. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Yes, yes, everything yes.

    Though when I return from my travels to Honduras, my view of Chicago is one of a different nature. Chlorinated water comes from the faucet! I can walk around the city past dusk! The order of everything! But weeks go by, and this too subsides. The news of the shootings in my backyard, the deep segregation and hatred that maintains the violence, the never-ending onslaught of depressing political discourse reminds me that it’s all just very complicated.

    Trips to Iceland (or wherever – a quiet room to meditate) are needed, and I’m happy to hear you talk of this. I want this balance. I want food blogs that speak of imperfections. I want lush descriptions of escapes paired with reminders of the reality we shouldn’t forget. Thank you.

  12. This post is beautiful, thank you for posting this after such a sad week in the news.

  13. Thank you for your beautiful, thoughtful post.

  14. Keep at it, Tim.

  15. Thanks, Tim, for so eloquently putting into words what is in the heart of me and so many others.

  16. Thank you for your wonderfully wise and gentle post.

  17. More tears from reading your words. Never stop sharing your heart on this blog, never. You have much to share and teach and we have oh so much to learn. Thank you.

  18. I love this post, and am always heartened to hear your thoughts about the wider world, but what was really breathtaking here was your description of Iceland. Please keep writing, about anything and everything that captures your attention.

  19. I don’t prefer that you stick to food. :)

  20. I always read everything you say – then I read it again because it is important, touching, inspiring, brilliant and more.

  21. Your post is so touching and inspiring! It was an incredible read and I, for one, am glad to read anything you care to write, about food or otherwise.

  22. This is beautiful and powerful

  23. Your post was salve on a broken heart. Thank you.

  24. Thanks for all of the nice notes, friends! Curious if anyone has any suggestions for how we can take some action moving forward. Even if it is petitions to sign or articles to read. Would also like to provide some concrete ways of engaging. I really admire people who can write effectively when they are full of rage and my friend Helen did a great job of expressing what a lot of us are feeling here. I also think an important part of the conversations we need to have is about masculinity.

  25. Thank you.

    I went to Iceland as a 9-year old in 1976, the feeling of the possibility of freedom I received there was what I needed to survive and it has never left me. It gave me my innate strength back when the company of humans seemed intent on stripping it away or invalidating it.
    James Baldwin’s Nobody knows my name sprang at me from the bookshelves this morning “the questions which one asks oneself begin, at last, to illuminate the world.”

    “We need to act. We will win.” Yes.

  26. Thank you.

  27. Start with gun control. Get those assault rifles made illegal and have amnesty for their return to law officials. Make is much harder to own any gun, period. And religions of any stripe that preach hatred, fear, prejudice, and conspiracies….these are very dangerous. What to do in the land of freedom? Freedom from? Freedom to? It gets confusing and increasingly difficult to choose the right path in the face of willful ignorance, fear and hatred.

  28. Thank you for this post. So well said and so thoughtful.

  29. You keep it real. Always.

  30. Tears streaming down my cheeks from your beautiful, heartfelt, eloquent words. Please keep writing. Gathering at table is indeed where we learn the lessons of life and how to be human to each other.

    My sons are in Iceland as I write this. They will return with photos that will remind you of why it moved you so. Will send later

  31. Amy Husin says:

    June 15th, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Today is the first day I feel like I’m breathing. I feel ripped right open. I watched the Lt Gov of Utah’s speech at a vigil he attended last night. It was the first time hearing such real, real words. It doesn’t heal, but it is a step forward to hear what he says and how he’s learned/changed. I don’t think I can post the link tho…Spencer Cox is his name (if you search it). I am so very sorry for this loss…and those words seem hollow, I know…I’m doing what I can to aid in the fight for equality and have hope for a future. Best to you…strength and comfort.
    (ps, my sister said the same thing of Iceland xo)

  32. Beautiful photo, looks like the naval of the world.

  33. Hannah-Phoebe says:

    June 15th, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Tim this post is wonderful – Iceland is VERY high on my wish list for trips, a friend just got back and i could not cope with her pictures, in the end i stopped closing my mouth between pics and just stared agape.

    Your words on Chicago and Orlando touch deeply, as far as action goes – as a straight cis white Brit – the links i’d like to share are to the voices of the Latinax and LGBTQI communities:

    and to share their names: Edward, Stanley, Luis, Akyra, Luis, Juan, Eric, Peter, Kimberly, Eddie, Enrique, Anthony, Jonathan, Yilmary, Cory, Mercedez, Deonka, Miguel, Jason, Darryl, Jean Carlos and Luis Daniel, Oscar and Simon, Shane, Amanda, Martin, Gilberto, Javier, Tevin, Alejandro, Franky, Xavier, Joel, Juan, Luis, Juan, Jerald, Leroy, Jean, Rodolfo, Brenda, Christopher, Angel, Frank, Paul, Antonio, Christopher, Geraldo…

    Let’s keep these voices, names and faces in the spotlight – this cannot be used to perpetuate fear, it must be dedicated to love

    Also, I really appreciated the link about masculinity and would love your thoughts on :

    Sending all the gratitude and strength that i can x

  34. I have always wanted to go to Iceland despite my disdain of the cold brother. Welcome home! The City of Big Shoulders needs you.

    Take Care,

  35. Antoinette says:

    June 15th, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Tim your words are beautiful… Couldn’t stop reading. My first ever comment on a blog!

  36. Thank you, and thank you and keep sharing your thoughts, above and beyond food. Food doesn’t matter were it not for the people growing, harvesting, making -and sharing it. And thank you again!

  37. Thank you for this Tim. So much agreement here and I appreciate your request in the comments for ideas about next steps, I’ll certainly read through all the links diligently. And to echo others, I certainly don’t want you to stick to just food. Honestly, I clicked here today hoping you had posted something recent, a perspective that would help me think through some of what is going on in my own head. Sometimes I hate the Internet but not here in this space.

  38. Quite possibly the best post on this blog and one of the best things I’ve read on Chicago/Orlando/the country right now. Please don’t ever make this an only-food blog.

  39. Tim. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. But I’m a loyal reader. I attended a dinner you co-hosted at Floriole once, but now I live in Maine and spend more time foraging knotweed than I do going to restaurants. I love my life. I’ve been confused this week. But your writing here has been the only thing this week that has moved me to tears. Rock on, brother.

  40. Hi Tim, I so look forward to your emails for your wonderfully edited recipes and your great commentary but when the world gets intense I am blown away with your commentary. I have forwarded this incredible post to many of my friends. I sob for the horror and I am uplifted by the wisdom and love. The response of the LGBT community is the way of the future.

  41. Thank you Tim for your thoughtful post. Do not stick to food. As they say, man does not live by bread alone. From far away little New Zealand I wish you and your community all the best. I wish you change for the better.

  42. Katherine says:

    June 16th, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Thank you.

  43. LIsa Marie says:

    June 16th, 2016 at 8:14 am

    beautifully thought, written and expressed. thank you for this. welcome back home…

  44. So beautiful. At times like this, reading thoughts like yours gives me hope. There is so much hate around but there is so much good and hope too. Thank you; please never just stick to food and keep sharing.

  45. Hi Tim, thanks so much for this post. I’ve shared it with friends and it’s touched us all and brought to light important parts of this tragedy that I don’t think a lot of people have thought about. Someone at school shared these links for action steps, so I thought I’d share here since you requested some suggestions.

    How elected officials stand on LGBT community being included in hate crimes:

    How they voted in December 2015 on expanding gun background checks:

    How to tell your elected officials how you feel about gun control:

  46. Thank you for articulating what I’ve been feeling, Tim, but couldn’t nail on my own. I’ve been reading your posts for years and have always been impressed with the quality of your writing as much as the content, but never more so than with this one. Beautifully, painfully, importantly expressed.

  47. You have an amazing way with words– thank you for expressing all the things so many of us have been thinking in such a meaningful way.

  48. I always tell people mine is a regular blog disguised as food blog. So yes, take it or leave it.
    Thanks for writing all of this. I appreciate it more coming from a food blog because that’s what I read most often. I love this community but it drives me nuts when the smart people I know ignore the elephant in the room especially since I feel I have little right to say anything. I’m not a citizen of the US but I can die from a gun….I just can’t talk about it.
    As for how we can help, I am a huge believer in the next generation. We reap what we sow so I feel we should constantly seek out youth and children’s organizations that are promoting values that go against the status quo. Let’s never forget the important of education. I’ve seen it work and it gives me so much hope. I can post the links for two such groups in Seattle, which is the closest to where I live and it also has sister organizations all over the US and the world. This non-profit seeks to empower girls and youth to be leaders in their communities through music. They are currently seeking volunteers for 2 programs so if you’re in Seattle or in the South Sound, please reach out. They invite individuals who self-identify as female (cis or trans*), trans*, or gender non-conforming. It’s an after-school program for girls and gender non-conforming youth. It has the same goals as Rain City Rock Camp I linked about but instead of music they use media production tools.

    Thank you again for sharing this post.

  49. Thank you for talking about what’s important.

  50. Tim,

    I knew when no substantive gun control laws passed after Sandy Hook, it would just continue to get worse. The NRA has clouded this whole thing with massive amounts of money and fear. I do not want guns in my home, but I can understand why people would want them. I do not understand the need for an arsenal.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see any chance for change until the NRA’s lobbying power is broken, we have some type of mental health safety net, and some kind of restrictions on who can purchase guns. We also need to seriously look at closing the loophole for gun show purchases.

    I love ALL of your posts, food and non-food. Don’t stop writing about any of it. It ALL matters.

  51. Thank you for this. This is going to stick with me, and this graph hits home particularly. Empowering the domestic, the quotidian, the invisible conversations, food as edible connection and tangible lesson.

    “Our kitchens are, in many ways, the most vital and important space for political discourse. We learn at the kitchen table, we argue, we affirm, we try to figure things out. We imagine the world we want and start creating it in our homes. We have a better chance of convincing someone who sits down to dinner. There is a lot of work to do. There are children to educate and friends to inspire. The revolution starts at the kitchen table, not in the voting booth. The future holds the possibility of freedom, the past does not. There is no Again.”

    In solidarity,

  52. Jeffrey C says:

    June 16th, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    It deeply saddens me at the daily reminders at how so many people have devalued and commoditized human life.

  53. welltailored says:

    June 16th, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    I had a similar shift following a trip to a tiny tiny tiny spot in Mexico a few years ago. Rather than a vacation that enabled me to retreat from life, it threw into relief all the things I was no longer quite sure about once I returned home. This rippled and resonated for months–I got into wild political disputes with friends, drank like an idiot one weekend, withdrew from things I’d previously done without any critical examination or second thought. I felt disturbed by the way we handled everyday things, the way we categorised items as ok to throw in the trash, the tenor of day-to-day dealings. I forget, now, whether there was a culminating event–big picture/worldwide scale–or if this was really just all about me. But, I’ll never forget the feeling of coming home from a holiday in a beautiful place and realising SO MANY things.

  54. These are awful times. I know intellectually that the world has never been safer, and yet it feels like terrible menace lurks everywhere now. I’m so anxious for Hugo – what kind of world have I brought him into? The responsibility and anxiety is crushing sometimes. I don’t have any answers, but what I do know is that being in nature, reading books and spending time with friends makes me feel better, while being online often makes me feel worse. Ugh, go figure. In any case, I guess I’m just trying to say that I know how you feel and I’m glad you’re my friend. Big hugs from over here. xo

  55. I’ve always had faith in the majority of people to do the right thing. But lately, it’s hard to see beyond the hatred & greed to find the humanity.

  56. The world *is* enough, isn’t it? The beauty with which you write about Iceland belies the extent to which you fell in love – thank you for sharing that, and for reminding us what’s possible. Thank you also for reminding us of what’s real, what’s happening on the ground at any given minute.

    Would that we would/could/had left the world alone a little bit more. I find it strangely hopeful to think that the Earth will survive us long after we render ourselves extinct. And in the meantime, I’m glad to have folks like you to give us words and images and sometimes food to feed us and to force us to reckon.


  57. Thank you for sharing the magic of your recent trip to Iceland. In a week filled with sadness and fear it was lovely to soak up the purity of such a unique environment. Your contributions are always so wonderful and lift my spirits. I wish you and your family all good things.

  58. Well said. We do need occasional reminders. Thank you.

  59. Thank you for this. It is so perfectly articulated and such a potent reminder of how pivotal THIS moment is. “I want to help create a world from which nobody needs an escape—where we don’t need to be waiting for vacation, or a revolution, or heaven.” It’s something we can all wrap our head and hearts around but it’s also something we need to stand behind.

  60. Beautifully written – the juxtaposition between your escape to idyllic Iceland and the horror that was occurring in our own country. My only hope is that something will change as we unite against this seemingly endless stream of senseless violence. Our thoughts are all with the LGBTQ community during this difficult time…

  61. As I was reading this, I was thinking to myself how, I love the photos here, I love the recipes here, but my favorite posts are when you write about *something*. I was shocked to keep reading and hear that you’ve received feedback to stick to food. This writing is beautiful and heartfelt. I’m so sorry that these moments of awe and wonder had to be coupled with such crushing heartache. Please keep writing about whatever moves you—I for one am reading.

  62. I’m reading the most amazing book called The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller. The author talks a lot about the grief we carry (whether or not we know it) for our earth and how we’ve destroyed it. And he talks about how we should be grieving for our earth. I completely feel that on almost a regular basis–esp. here in LA with our epic drought.

    Relatedly, I couldn’t sleep the night of the Dems. sit-in. I was so worked up, so agitated. There’s so much anger on both sides. The next morning, I decided to take a break from our 24-hour news cycle and I already feel a lot better. I know I can’t ignore the news forever, but I want to be smarter about how I take it in. xoxoxx

  63. Possibly your most brilliant blog yet. Thank you so much.

  64. Beautifully said. Inspiring. Honest. And for what it is worth, I think “food” is political… What we eat, where we eat, why we eat, with whom we eat. Our dining tables should be a place of revolutionary consciousness and awareness.

  65. “The revolution starts at the kitchen table, not at the voting booth”. Those are brilliant words. I don’t really even know what to say except this was so beautifully written and so important. I hope and pray for more love in our world….

  66. Grateful for this post and its truth. I’ve always believed words can change the world. Open one person’s eyes and heart with your words and it spreads exponentially from them. It is a time of grief, and it can also be a time of action.

  67. This was a beautiful piece of writing, and thinking like this is much needed in our world right now. I am from the UK and I hate what is happening to my country – it has made me really see us (apparently 52% of us) and it is shameful. Not just the extreme racism and right wing rhetoric, but the everyday xenophobia and isolationism and arrogance that we’re so bloody great. I used to feel proud of my country, I hope I can again.

  68. Thank you for how you share yourself online – in your words, pictures, recipes, humor.

  69. I really loved this piece, and loved a long time ago, “You’re Boring.” Keep doing what you’re doing.

  70. Catching up on you recent posts. This was a timely read — thank you.

  71. My favorite post on your blog. Bravo!

  72. Loved, loved this post! The photo was simply sumptuous.
    If you had 3 days in Iceland, which I may, what do you recommend Tim?

  73. Hi Kelly! That is tough. But I think I would spend one night in Reykjavik and then the rest of your time driving the Golden Circle and the south coast stopping at Vik (black sand beaches) and going all of the way up to Jokulsarlon (the famous iceberg lagoon). It would be a lot of driving, but driving is a joy there and the views are unlike anything. Another option would be a night in Reykjavik and then driving up to Snaefellsnes and staying somewhere up there for a night. Otherwise, stay in Reykjavik and sign up for a tour of the Golden Circle, that is what most people do. It will give you a little glimpse into the landscape. But I hope you rent a car and explore. Feel free to email when you know your plans and I can share more specifics. : )

  74. we eloped in Iceland and our 48 hours there were simply stunning. I cannot wait to go back for a longer stretch of time. XO

  75. What an inspiring blog post. I want to print it, and read it to people dear to me. I was especially moved by the connection you made about change in the world and our kitchen table. As a mother of four, living in Jerusalem, Israel, hosting many Shabbat meals- politics and social change are all discussed inside the home- and after nourishing ourselves on the weekend- we must go out and act in the world afterwards. Thank You!

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