A Place at the Table

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Tonight we had hand-breaded chicken, corn, cold-pea salad, and cornbread stuffing. The kind from a box, but laced with dill, making it even nicer. If you can even imagine that.

I read that it’s good for children to eat dinner with the family around the table-gives them a sense of belonging. We eat dinner around the table…a table that spins, and people buy vowels off of. Sigh.

We do eat properly, now and then, and it’s warm and familial. Not so much tonight, since I was hangry, and Sawaya was trying to fix the speakers for the record player. Kingston likes to listen to “Yots of Chocayat for me to eat” on the record player. I’m so proud. (He also likes Aloe Blacc’s “I need a dollar” on YouTube. We keep him musically balanced like that)

Growing up, we always ate dinner together, all eight of us, the person sitting in the middle of the bench seat completely at the goodwill of his captors on either side. We ate rice flavored with margarine and soy sauce on blue plastic tupperware plates. We drank weak sweat tea. (My parents were from the North. We were lucky it was sweet.) We had to ask to be “excused.” Leftovers  from our plates went to the cat.

My in-laws, in Germany, eat together religiously. Sit down, have a glass plate on a place-mat. Have coffee in a carafe. Don’t scoop your food from the pots on the stove, dish from the food set on the table. Have a nice salad to polish off your hot dinner. When I think of my in-laws, I think of a place at the table.

One of my fears is being alone in this world. I’ve long had that fear, but have come recently to realize that until you grow-up, you don’t really understand what being alone is. Growing up, being loved by adults, being guided, being cared for, nagged, instructed, taught…we are surrounded by those who are invested in us. Through college, friend come, go, whirls of people every day in your life. As an adult, you come to rest, to rotate in a regular pattern that involve the same people. Your circle tightens, shrinks.

And suddenly you realize that there are only a very few people in the world that care deeply about the intimate details of your life. I have three. Three people.

There’s many more than that, because I am so very blessed, who claim me, who would stop what they’re doing to help, to listen, to pray. But there’s only three that care about the new sweater I bought, and the way I feel that day. When you think of that, and know that relationships change, people go, they die, they stop caring–then you know what it is to fear. That one day, you can buy a perfectly amazing sweater at a steal, or have the bluest of blue moments, and there will be no one.

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what I’ve said before…