My father would have gasped with longing delight at what I have learned about protein fabrication. If I could, I’d make him a feast of veal shank and lamb and he’d sing with absolute sincerity about how he never met a leg he didn’t like. The sad paradox of this journey is that it was inspired by their loss. If they were here today and my heart was full with contentment, I don’t know if I would have reached so far to dream.

After butchering pork, rabbit, and lamb, we moved onto mother sauces including béchamel, veloute, espagnole, and French classic tomato sauce. We whisked and blended savory classics with the precision of an architect.

The weather had turned cold this weekend. It was a mix of fierce wind and scatterings of rain signaling a difficult winter ahead. When I returned home, I showered and washed my uniform, shedding the smells and residue of the weekend’s work. I am on my fourth pair of kitchen footwear, as each pair I have tried has either been too uncomfortable or against school policy. I never imagined I would have this type of shoe collection. In my bedroom closet, kitchen clogs are adjacent to high heels, and remnants of three lives sit as spectators looking on as I straddle like an acrobat balancing from on-high hoping not to fall. My father’s sweatshirt sits on my shelf and his small white cotton hankie is near my bed; my mother’s pajama pants that I wear to sleep hang on a nearby chair with her old journals stacked high within arms reach; and my brother’s backpack that I take back and forth to class each weekend rests on the wood floor spilling out notebooks and receipts filled with words that trail together everything from my morning breakfast to the evening’s cab ride. Though they are part of this endeavor, despite the thousands of miles home I travel, I cannot reach them.

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