Cooking dinner the other night, my girlfriend and I had This American Life playing in the background. This particular episode — No. 692 —was dedicated to a single topic: delight.
We put the water on the burner and listened to guest host Bim Adewunmi discuss the delight she felt during her first visit to America. “We had the windows down, we were playing loud music, wearing jean cutoffs, and I remember this moment of stark clarity, I was like, ‘oh my god! This is America! I'm in a truck! We're on the road!’”
The water came to a boil as Adewunmi spoke with poet Ross Gay, author of The Book of Delights, who said “So often I've had the experience of walking through the world and not seeing anything. And then someone's like, ‘did you see how that--?’ You don't see it until you see it. And then when you see it, you're like, ‘whoa!’”
We dropped the raw gnocchi in the water and they sunk to the bottom as a producer recorded the delight her son experienced during his debut bus ride to school. “I can't believe it! I'm on the bus! Yes! Yes! It's my first time.”
And when the 72-year-old widow, who was experiencing joy for the first time in her life, said, “I feel so light. Delightful is just the exact adjective for my life at this point,” the first gnocchi rose to the surface as if to announce, I’m ready!
Then another. Hello! And another. Weeee! And another. Eat me!
We peered into the pot like we were staring down a magic well, watching our pasta pop. Can you believe it? A miracle in our very own home! And we weren’t even stoned.