Issue 05

The Years of the Egg

Written by Danielle FrankelPhoto by Shawn Linehan

On my shelf rests the familiar carton, in rectangular repose, next to a woebegone carrot.

In the still quiet of the kitchen, like the morning after a wind storm, I crack two over a bowl. Twin sunsets in a clear pool. In moments like these, my hands move slowly. I cook the eggs over the lowest heat, stirring often. A yellow soufflé arrives.

It’s a tender love between the overwhelmed and soft scrambled eggs. I eat them in bed with a spoon. I feel this great swelling at the touch of comfort.

You see, if I’m to explain being 23, I must address the egg.

I must illustrate the idling through produce, the letting my eyes linger on the chanterelles. Turning the raw almond butter over and over again in my hands, as though I’m handling a relic. Staring blankly at the local bulk granola.

Eventually, the food-stamped realist in me deposits herself in front of the chilled case—it’s where I knew I’d end up. I wanted the sprouted nuts and the lavender salt…the local honey, artisanal popcorn. Instead, the egg cooler.

I find myself and others in love with the fact that we have no idea what we are going to do, that we have no idea what we are doing.

We bring it up at coffee and potlucks. It’s like a baby blanket or an absolution, a way to cover up a true aspiration or something said satirically. It is said, agreed upon, and then collectively shrugged off: “But I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.”

The statement, like an umbrella, to the realization, like a storm—it’s all up to you now. The decision to quit your job, or move to Panama, or become an OPB member, or go to art school. They are yours and yours only for the making.

But first it’s oil in the cast iron. Green onions and paprika and eggs fried hot and fast.

We want fulfillment and purpose; we want to challenge apathy with action. We hate the man. But it’s expensive to do that. We want to have fun, live comfortably, too. And how about financial independence?

How about it soft boiled? With spicy brown mustard.

I hold teary-eyed friends who, like me, just can’t decide. I issue the same tired aphorisms that I myself have trouble believing. I focus on this hot, dense need for stability. I have thousands of ideas for what that looks like.

Eating to quell the unanswerable is nothing new. And eating eggs is hardly confined to those born in the 90s.

I’ve found however, that when done right, an egg is like an antidote to certain pangs of becoming. Eggs are the opposite of the unanswerable—affordable, accessible, finite, full of protein. You must make your mind up on one thing, and that is if you want a runny yolk.

That melancholy girl in front of the egg cooler is ogling the new and jarring terrain of adulthood, where what’s clear is that responsibility’s what’s for dinner. But you can have it poached, if you please.

What I mean to say is that eggs are pragmatic. Orbs of sensibility. Yet they radiate another reality of my young, privileged contemporaries. That of choice—often shattering. Expansive, I think, if you allow it to be so.

Impossibly encased within these white or speckled brown packages, lives joy and comfort. Responsibility and freedom and delight – raw and viscous in the years of the egg.

So, we learn. We get our two clogged feet under us and we make what practical decisions we can. We buy eggs. We feel the burden of choice some days. Other days it’s roomy, hopeful. We make the eggs how we want to make them and make them a different way tomorrow. We eat. And that part, at the very least, feels good.

 

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