Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Best Meal I've Had in A Long Time

My husband picked up a ribeye and trimmings from Texas Roadhouse after a long, hot July work day.  Their kitchen was already hot and this kept ours cool.

I had plates, forks, steak knives and napkins on the table by the time he arrived home.  No need for takeout to be eaten on styrofoam and with plastic.  While he was getting drinks, I split the baked potato into two pieces and loaded them with the carefully packed condiments, butter and sour cream melted together, shredded cheddar, and bacon bits.  He divided the 10 ounce ribeye into two pieces and forked one onto my plate.  He passed the bread, we said a blessing and began this bountiful meal with our side portion sized salads, house for him, Caesar for me.  

Like most Americans, we've had about all the Hillary and Donald we can stomach, so I turned on the music channel to soft rock.  A number of tunes were from the late 1980s, the era we were married and began our family.  We'd hear the next tune, try to guess the artist and the year.  Madonna's sultry "Spanish Lullaby" played and the year was 1986, the year we said our wedding vows.  We were eating in the same dining room, the same home, in the same spots where we looked at each other the morning after our evening wedding, both silently incredulous we'd indeed taken that permanent step to solidify the relationship we'd been building nearly four years.  

The first dining table, an art deco metal-legged table with a gold-speckled white formica top, was a stand-in for the antique hard rock maple drop leaf table I found in the used furniture section of the local newspaper six months into our life together.  The maple table served our family of four for 28 years, the last two of those years just the two of us again.  Unlike many couples who downsize after the kids are grown, we stayed where we started.  I couldn't get away from the familiar, but I could shake up the surroundings to reflect our beginning again as two, so we now dine at an oak table while seated on bent wood chairs with floral tapestry covered seats, another second hand find, continuing the re-purposing of others' cast offs as we always had, long before it was cool.

I had a clear flashback to our first morning living together as man and wife in early fall, 1986, when we looked at each other in what-have-we-done glances.  I had on a pale pink baby doll top and matching bottoms, a gift received at a bridal shower, and he had on tighty-whities.  We didn't know them by that name then, the fitting description came into our vernacular after our older son was mortified he was the only one wearing them when the boys at school changed into P.E. uniforms for the first time.  I didn't know boxers were cool and tighty-whities were for nerds and old men.  It was an honest mistake.  My father and brothers wore them, my husband wore them, I bought them for my sons thinking it was what I was supposed to do.  

My husband had no need to be cool so he still wears tighty-whities.  The pink baby doll lingerie set is long discarded.  Tonight he had on work out shorts and a shirt with Colorado emblazoned across the front of it, the adopted home state of our children who left southern Georgia's flatlands for a higher elevation in careers as well as hiking and climbing mountains.  I had on work out shorts myself and a plain gray Old Navy T-shirt, so old the collar is frayed, but so comfortable I'm not ready to part with it.  My younger son has a hard time parting with old clothes, not sure where he gets that trait. 

We're at the stage of life where one restaurant meal comfortably fills two and this one ended with me saying it was the best meal I've had in a long time.  The salads were fresh and everything was just right as all was seasoned with gratitude.  Just last week, my husband traveled to bury a brother-in-law, a man who had been in his family since my husband was 11 years old, 51 years gone by since.  I'd already buried a brother in '09.  The goodbyes of our generation have begun.  Eleven siblings combined, almost as many spouses, we marvel we made it this far.  Same house, same dining room, same spouse.  Thirty years come September 21st of this year should the good Lord see fit to allow us to see that day.  We no longer have the luxury of taking that for granted.

He said I should check hotel rates at the beach and book a room this weekend.  I was hung up on why.  We'd taken a short vacation in May and said we'd sit out the heat of the summer at home, then decide what to do toward the end of this year, a trek to Denver at some point, an anniversary celebration, the good Lord willing.  

In my childhood, when someone said something bizarre, my late mother used to say, "You talk like a tree fell on your head."  I was looking at him like a tree had fallen on his head and again asked why.  

We'd been transported to 1986 and landed back in 2016.  Life was wide open ahead of us then.  My husband was thinking of what lies ahead now, the lanes in our road of adventure narrowing.  He finally answered my why with "I'm not getting any younger."  I told him, "I am," and we laughed.  I haven't yet made a reservation.  I wanted to sit awhile longer in the sweetness and sadness combined called life--distilled memories from long ago, vaporized, condensed, then collected again in a new form in the same place we started this journey together.  We had not foreseen this day, but we vowed long ago to get to it.  

It's possible thirty years from now we may remember a song from 2016 and marvel at what has transpired between then and 2046.  It's also possible that day may not come, so we'll bank on a date a little closer and walk down a beach hand-in-hand now.  We still like to do that and it may well be the best walk we've had in a long time.