For just a few minutes, we’ve forgotten about what’s going on in the world. For just a few minutes, we were present and joyful. For just a few minutes, it was a normal Sunday.

“Add these to the menu!” I exclaim to my fiancĂ©.

Matt nods his head and laughs, “So good, right?”

We’d just made gluten free, deep fried chicken tenders for a late Sunday lunch. It was a Betty Crocker recipe and boy, she didn’t disappoint. We were in food heaven, our favorite place to go together.

A retail analyst and an attorney, we like to dream of the cafe we’ll open if we leave the corporate grind one day. Our menu will be funky and eclectic. We’ll serve old world Italian wine and craft beer. There’ll be a little book store and board games. I like to think we’ll have cats, too.

Any time we create an amazing meal together, we mentally add it to our future cafe menu. Some of our menu items so far? Bone broth risotto, maple glazed salmon, and spiralized sweet potatoes topped with goat cheese and bacon.

With quarantine in full effect, we’ve been spending a lot of time at home cooking together, adding to the menu of our future cafe.

Pre-quarantine, our lives were a lot busier.

Before the courts were closed, Matt was often busy prepping for trials and hearings late into the evening. Before I was ordered to work from home, I didn’t arrive home until 7 p.m., after I’d driven in SoCal traffic for almost an hour.

We’d greet each other with tired smiles, throw on our sweats, and quickly cook a meal so we could eat and relax before it was time for bed.

Nowadays, we’ve got more time. A lot more of it. These days, we’re spending our evenings cooking together. They’ve become the highlight of my day. Matt pours us each a glass of wine and we flip on the music. Sometimes we’re in the mood for soulful Sam Cooke. Other times we feel like listening to Brooks and Dunn or Odesza.

I’ll admit, Matt is the head chef; the “mastermind” behind most of our meals. I play sous chef. I love cutting the vegetables, keeping the kitchen clean, and making sure everything is timed right. The wine, the music, the chopping; it’s therapeutic.

Sometimes while we cook, we dance. When we’re cooking, we aren’t talking about COVID-19. We aren’t worrying about the economy or talking about who’s lost their job. For a while, we aren’t thinking about what’s going on in the world. We’re just present. We’re cooking, dancing, drinking wine, and being in love.

I like those moments of presence. I like that our kitchen has become our solace. I like that, despite the hurt in the world, we’re still finding joy in the simple things. I’m grateful for more time to cook together. That time in the kitchen has given us the chance to bond, create, and leave the world behind for a while.