Autumn makes me unexpectedly domestic; today I am driven to dust off the tops of lintels, clean out the lazy Susan in the kitchen.

I find an onion on the counter, lurking behind a reusable smoothie cup (the one with the straw that’s a pain to clean if you forget to rinse it immediately, the way I always forget to rinse it immediately). I’m not sure when or why we bought the onion, or what meal we intended it for. It might have been for a curry, the fast curry recipe the Boy brought back from one of his squadmates. He doesn’t care for the texture of onion, but likes the flavor.

I clean out the freezer, moving all the scraps and orts of frozen fruits into one bag for smoothies later. There is a packet of beef lurking under a bag of ice. I remember we bought the ice for a summer party, because the defrost effect in our refrigerator is so aggressive that ice cubes have barely frozen before they’re half-gone. I don’t remember buying the beef, but the cut indicates that we were planning to barbecue tequila-marinated beef at some point. I do remember drinking the tequila, because we were out of Fresca and I had to chase the last of it with ginger beer. Had to. Because obviously someone held a gun to my head and compelled me to finish the tequila.

The onion hasn’t gone bad yet so I chop it up and put it in a stockpot with a thick pat of butter.

We have far too much wine for two people that drink wine as infrequently as we do. We buy it like souvenirs, memories of tasting trips, and it’s never as good at home as it is at the winery. There’s a Chardonnay from our trip to Hood River a few years ago. I don’t even like Chardonnay. It has gone faintly sour-smelling, but tastes good enough to deglaze the stockpot. Maybe I just always think Chardonnay smells sour.

There are still a few single-serving broth cartons in the lazy Susan, left over from the greyhound’s bout of illness this summer when we coaxed her to eat anything we could. I microwave the broth, hoping that the expiration date of a month ago was mostly a suggestion, while the onion caramelizes and the beef defrosts. I add the broth to the pot with the rough hunks of beef and turn the heat under the pot up to high.

The Boy is in California at a conference. Work demands he travel more this year, while I now do piecework and contract work at home. I turn the heat down when the liquid boils, cover the pot, let it start to simmer. When he comes home tomorrow I don’t know if the house will be clean, but I’m absolutely certain there will be way too much beef stew in the fridge.

I’m not sure where any of the ingredients I just added to this stew came from but I know we bought them together, intending to use them to take care of each other. Like this our lives are mingled, bits of memories and things with forgotten purposes and all our imperfections, thrown in a pot and offered up later.

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