A Love Letter to Supper — Romancing your friends with great food and wine
Of all the gatherings I’ve hosted for Tender Heart Supper Club, I don’t think there was one more filled with love than the fifth. I have my guests to thank for this: Alix, Fabiola, Hyobin, Luz, Rain, Tatiana, and Annie, who took photographs for the occasion. These women came tenderhearted and generous in their desire to connect on that gorgeous summer night. We romanced one another through storytelling, eager listening, and easy laughter. New friends were made, and other friendships were deepened. No one’s glass was ever empty, and no one ever wanted for anything that wasn’t already there.
All photos by Annie Park @anniefromqueens
It was the perfect evening for a backyard supper. Seattle’s soft gray dusk gave way slowly but surely to a star-dotted sky above us as we ate and talked into the night. I think I got one million mosquito bites; that pesky itch lingered for days after our meal, a calling card of late summer. There were flowers and ferns on the table from the yard, twinkle lights winking just behind us on the back porch, and a stack of folded blankets nearby for any supper guest that grew chilled as our meal neared its end. Bottles of wine and sparkling water filled in the tabletop like a mosaic along with candles that glowed brighter and brighter as twilight settled in around us.
We talked so much of love that night: self love, heartache, joy and pain. At one point in our meal Alix said, “Every morning I wake up and spend time by myself, and I say, I love you. And I say, I love your mind, I love your heart, I love your soul, I love your body. I say it over and over again until I can get out of bed. It’s been so giving and it’s changed my relationships. I’m going to do it again and again until my life starts to look like me, and less what I’ve thought others needed from me.”
Fabiola echoed this beautiful statement about affirmations, explaining, “In the way it’s super important to give affirmations to your body, it’s important to thank yourself for your decisions, Like, thank you for deciding to take care of yourself today. Thank you for feeding me today. That was a really great job, I’m proud of me.”
Others touched on how their socialization as young girls taught them to put love of self far behind the care of others. Tatiana said, “I’m from El Salvador. In these cultures you’re taught that you have to make sure that your significant other is doing good first and foremost, and then everybody else, and then you are the last person to sit down at the table and take care of yourself. I’m trying to be more compassionate with myself.”
Luz considered this. “My big question in life,” she said, “is how to navigate love. And I mean that very literally, and figuratively as well. What loving yourself means; what loving other people means. I got to a place this last year where loving in all directions started to look really different from how I thought it was going to look for me. I take so many pauses to take a count of where I’m at: friendships, sweethearts, metamours, family, myself,” she said. “I think I want to put myself last often, because it’s just way easier. Figuring out how to put myself first will be my constant companion, probably until I die.”
I will never forget these conversations about love. I’ll never forget how we leaned on one another during this meal, heads resting on each other’s shoulders and hands clasped together through vulnerable and inspiring moments. Plates were passed and bread was dipped into the saucy remnants of each dish until only crumbs remained. Our collective appetite was grand, and the food and heart-to-hearts filled and nourished me in the most comforting way. The gratitude that I have for this experience is overwhelming in its magnitude, and the love we invoked during our meal is forever imprinted on my heart.
More about Caitlyn
Caitlyn Edson, or Cece to her nearest and dearest, is a Seattle-based writer, arts facilitator, and restaurant industry professional. For as long as she can remember, she has been happily entrenched in art and food spaces; by day she makes zines and organizes art shows, and by night she hosts dinner parties and waits tables in fine dining atmospheres. Caitlyn created and co-runs Soft Spot, a community arts space in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle that aims to highlight works from emerging and underrepresented local makers of all kinds.
She is the creator of Tender Heart Supper Club, a dinner series and accompanying eponymous biannual publication that centers on food and community. Since 2017, Tender Heart Supper Club has served as an effort to grow community by using food-centered gatherings as a catalyst for meaningful, tender connection. Each issue of Tender Heart Supper Club the zine documents the profound, vital moments of a single dinner party, and is also filled with thoughtful interviews, food-inspired features, and community submissions. The zine strives to foster that same feeling of warmth and sincere connection one would experience while clinking glasses in “cheers” over a shared meal.
When Caitlyn is not immersed in hospitality or the process of creating, she is very likely cooking something delicious at home. A novice but passionate cook, she writes love letters to herself constantly in the form of long, decadent meals. She loves raw oysters, sparkling rosé, breezy bike rides through the city, connecting with her community, her cat Ella and her sweetheart Ryan.