My 15-year-old daughter leaves tomorrow for most of the summer, spent with her father, who lives in St. Louis. She will have beach vacations and Fourth of July fireworks and long summer nights with her grandparents and cousins, a huge Catholic family that used to include me and now doesn’t, and that’s OK, even though it sort of stings, even though I miss her terribly. Even though it doesn’t seem fair that I have to do the school year carpools, the homework, the orthodontist appointments … and then I don’t get the fun time in the summer.

But I don’t want to write about that. 

My 84-year-old father crashed his car into a post in the Rouses parking lot and I had to take away his car keys because he isn’t safe behind the wheel and now I am solely responsible for his care because he can’t go to the grocery store or the pharmacy or the library and my brother and sister are dead so it’s just me left to handle this. (Although my husband is doing well more than his fair share out of love and marital obligation, I still wish there were other blood relatives to help with this new reality.)

But I don’t want to write about that. 

I feel weird wearing a mask (no one else is!) and weird not wearing a mask (it seems irresponsible with rates surging again!) and I don’t know how I am supposed to exist in this current COVID world, where I am vaccinated and boosted but I don’t know if I need to get boosted again or if I should get my 10-year-old daughter boosted even though she is vaccinated and had COVID in February and when should I stop testing every time I get a headache or a sneezing fit, and I never really liked crowds to begin with so can I keep using COVID as an excuse to not go to things? Probably not, huh?

But I don’t want to write about that. 

Instead, in honor of the Creole Tomato Festival this weekend, I will leave you with my favorite summer recipe:

Blend 4 roughly chopped Creole tomatoes in the food processor with two cloves of garlic, the juice and zest of one lemon, and a generous amount of both salt and olive oil. Mix with hot cooked pasta, and cover with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and torn basil. Serve with a glass of your favorite white wine or sparkling water.

Creole tomatoes, garlic, carbs, cheese, and wine won’t fix my problems. Once I’ve eaten, my kid will still be gone, my dad will still be old and feeble, and COVID will still be out there ruining everything.

But somehow, the world will be just a little bit better anyway. And that’s all we can ask for most days.