Growing Up | Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin

As blasphemous as it may sound, I love getting older.

With each passing year, I’ve gained a better sense of who I am and what my place in the world is. Leaving my early twenties, though, has meant leaving behind a sense of endless possibility, as each choice I’ve made has narrowed my set of future options, one by one.

Fortunately, that closing of doors hasn’t given me claustrophobia. Quite the opposite: it makes me feel focused, and free of that creeping sense of panic I always associated with having too many options. Instead, I get to settle into the enjoyable work of getting good at the hobbies and interests I’ve chosen very intentionally to pursue, as well as deepening the relationships that anchor my little world.

That focus couldn’t have come at a better time, because while there seemed to be no ceiling to my energy levels a few years ago…oh, how things have changed! In my early twenties, I was able to exhaustively analyze my endless options and still have the stamina to accept every happy hour invitation that came my way. Now? It may have taken more seasons of overcommitment and burnout than I care to admit, but I’ve finally learned what it means to prioritize.

Over the winter, my priorities were all thematically related to self-care; as I trained for a half-marathon in the Blue Ridge Mountains (which went swimmingly, by the way!), my days revolved around workouts, nourishing meals and early bedtimes. When I crossed the finish line, my springtime priorities all shifted to professional pursuits—acing the financial planning course I was taking, and getting really good at my new job. Now that summer is undeniably upon us, I’ll be prioritizing adventure and play. That means drafting itineraries for our summer trips to Detroit and Colorado, and dusting off my cameras for the occasion.

For a long time, I’d be haunted by guilt when I (inevitably) failed to maintain equal focus on forty things at once. But now I know that getting older means picking your battles, and picking your pleasures too.

A few words on the root vegetable tarte tatin you see pictured here. I spent a full afternoon on my first attempt at this recipe: mixing and rolling a disk of all-butter dough; slicing, seasoning and roasting the vegetables; melting sugar into a caramel that would mingle with fresh rosemary and sage in the bottom of the pan. And as I transferred the assembled dish from fridge to oven, it slipped from my hands and landed upside-down on the floor.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things land upside-down on the floor. If you can, it’s best to give yourself a few minutes to mourn the mess and all it could’ve been, and then start again. That’s something I’m still learning how to do.

Camera: Mamiya 645AF
Film: Kodak Portra 400, pushed one stop