I stumbled into my apartment last Friday, out of breath and cursing the motherfucking hill that I had just pushed my cartful of groceries up. In all honesty, it’s a ritual I enjoy. There’s something very satisfying about exerting a lot of physical strength while amassing ingredients. It’s very hunter/gatherer of me.
I popped my earbuds out, wiped the sweat from my upper lip, and heard my phone buzz buzz in my purse.
It was a text. It was from Shannon.
It said “Jaik died this morning”.
I laughed for a second, in denial, and then felt a shiver across the tips of my shoulder blades and back of my teeth. The bell jar lowered over me and my senses dulled. Mechanically, I put groceries away and poured myself a cup of coffee.
And then I did this strange thing… I didn’t call anyone. I didn’t reach out. I went on Facebook.
The news was instantly confirmed by a number of mutual friends. I sat alone in my office, sipping my coffee, and watched my screen as people discovered the news through the social network. “What???” “How can this be?” “My heart is broken!”
Jaik Miller was a force of nature. Jaik was a gregarious, brilliant, absolutely insane musician, whose emotional pendulum swung higher and lower than I thought humanly possible. His spirit was intoxicating. My brother played drums in three of Jaik’s bands and I met Shannon at one of their shows many years ago. Jaik was the most Technicolor person I’ve ever met; fleshy and boisterous, hysterical and compassionate. Jaik was a reminder to us all that interaction with people is what life is all about.
I broke the spell of my computer haze and called my brother. We cried and consoled each other. I called Shannon. More tears, more soothing. I hugged my dogs and then hugged them again. Touch felt good. Physical contact felt even better than it usually does. I wondered how I could have gone to Facebook before reaching out? Very easily actually. Facebook was like the teaspoon of sugar that I needed to get the medicine down. I was prepared to talk to my family and friends only after I spent a little time virtually adjusting.
I’m not in a position to bash our culture. I happily spend most of my time alone – in the kitchen or at the computer. I’m a bit social phobic and feel like the advent of social media has helped me stay in contact with people that would have long been forgotten, had the physical responsibility been put on my shoulders. But last Friday, I felt my perspective shift. I felt desperately disconnected by the loss of a socially fearless friend; someone who built networks upon networks by just having the courage to walk up to strangers and start talking. I realized I need to push myself beyond the safety of my excuses (I’m tired, I’m poor, I’m overwhelmed) and connect with more people in person, not just through my computer.
It actually feels good to miss my friends. It feels better to see them. There were many faces I had not seen in a long time at the funeral. Sometimes it takes something like this to make you stop and realize a few things in your life need adjustment.
Hey, I’m not quitting Facebook, just not relying on it so much.
Even Jaik used Facebook.
He had over 2000 friends.
There is no more perfect recipe to honor my departed hippy friend than this granola. It is a staple in my mom’s cabinet- she has it for breakfast every morning over some yogurt. It will fill your house with heady cinnamon, vanilla and almond aromas that will have you clawing at your oven door about a half hour before it’s done cooking. The nuts and fruit can be adjusted to your preferences or what’s in your cupboard.
- 2 1/2 cups oats
- 1 cup chopped nuts (the granola in the picture has hazelnuts, but I often use walnuts, pecans or almonds)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1/8 cup water
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup dried fruit (the granola in the picture has dried cherries, but I often use dried blueberries, cranberries, or raisins)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Toss the oats, nuts, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
- Put the oil, maple syrup, and water in a small bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and almond extract.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread out over baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, stir to make sure it cooks evenly, and then bake another 25-30 minutes, or until granola is golden brown. Sprinkle dried fruit over mixture and let cool completely.