Eight years is a long time.
In eight years, I’ve graduated high school, earned a university degree, chosen and pursued a career in journalism, thought about switching said career (twice), learned to cook, learned to write, raised a kitten, moved to another city and landed a job at a food magazine. And I’ve done all this with one person by my side.
My boyfriend and I are celebrating our eighth year anniversary. Well, “celebrating” may be too glamorous a word. We try not to make a big deal of these things, mostly because we’re just not “big deal” kind of people, but also because we know it’s just a day. And one day, compared with the nearly 3,000 we’ve spent together so far, isn’t huge.
We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve held and supported each other through the death of loved ones, various family crises, depression, failure, moving away from our families and all of the accompanying arguments, yelling matches and occasional silent treatments.
This past year has been the most difficult. We’re dealing with new problems – grown-up problems – like money and jobs and car payments. It’s been a struggle, every day, to get ourselves back to the way we were before, which is, as I’m discovering, part of the problem.
We started dating when we were very young, and therefore endured a fairly sharp growth curve in our relationship. We were both growing in and out of adolescence, desperately trying to forge our own identities while still holding onto each other. Then, somewhere in university, we’d figured out our routine – we hit a plateau. We got along, we shared the same values, and we made a life together.
Now our relationship is moving again and it’s rocking us to our very core, prying us away while forging us closer together at the same time. We’re experiencing growing pains, and we’re resisting it because all we want is to go back to the way we were.
So on this eight year anniversary, I am vowing to look forward. I’m going to look back at the memories we made and smile rather than cry. I’m going to look at him with promise rather than nostalgia. And I’m going to treat every day as a stepping stone to our future. Because at the end of the day, after eight years, we’re still crazy about each other. And that is something worth celebrating.
Large kitchen knife
Small metal spoon or melon baller
Blender of food processor
1 butternut squash
1 tbsp plus 3 tsp olive oil or canola oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup half and half
1 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Chopped walnuts, as desired
Sour cream, crème fraiche or plain Greek yogurt, as desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Drizzle the two halves with 1 tsp oil each and season with salt and pepper. Place, cut side down, on a large baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, until soft. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp oil on medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, scoop out flesh from squash. Add half of squash to a blender or food processor. Add half and half and purée until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low and add mixture to pot; stir to combine. Place remaining squash in blender with 1/2 cup broth. Purée until smooth, then add to pot and stir to combine. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup broth, butter and maple syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and additional salt and pepper to taste. Add additional broth or half and half if needed to reach desired consistency. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
In a small frying pan, heat remaining 1 tsp oil on medium-high. Add walnuts and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
To serve, divide soup among serving bowls and top with a dollop of cream or yogurt and toasted walnuts, if desired.