I found myself this past Saturday evening awash in a warm light emanating more from the people seated around me than from the brass chandelier hanging unobtrusively above the scene below. There were thirteen of us gathered around a long table dressed in white linen, and laden with comfort food the likes of which could nourish even the most starved of souls.
The Tapdancer had effortlessly thrown together a spur of the moment dinner party with her usual flawless domestic skill. She had prepared a fennel encrusted pork loin, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a decadently bubbly, crispy-in-the corners dish of macaroni and cheese made with sharp NY cheddar. Her sister in law had brought along warm spiced apples, and her brother, his famous green bean casserole. This is not your everyday green bean casserole people. This is slap your mamma good green bean casserole. No one knows exactly what goes in it, some say crack, but you literally cannot stop eating it. I fully expect to find myself, months from now, knocking over liquor stores in order to score some more GBC. This veritable feast was rounded off with a warm, thick, fudge brownie, and hot gourmet coffee. Like I said, food to feed your soul as well as your body.
Maybe it was the wine I consumed over the course of the evening after announcing early on, "I feel like getting tanked". Maybe it was those two bottles of Pinot Noir that, at one point, gave me pause to wonder how I ended up on the kitchen floor , and Oh my God I hope none one sees me down here with cat food stuck to my ass before I can drag myself to a dark corner to sober up for a few minutes. Yes, it's always the wine, but before my unfortunate run in with the kitchen floor, I sat around the dinner table listening to the laughter and conversation reach a jovial crescendo, and was struck by just how comfortable I was (am) around these people.
This is my family, not the family I was born into, but the one I got to choose. What a gift we have in our close friends; those we surround ourselves with by choice, the ones who get to see our true selves, and in turn trust us to show us theirs. This loud, laughing pack knows me in all my guises, all my craziness, all my flaws, and somehow they're okay with all of it. Go figure.
Not everyone was there, Ms. Q had to work (she's a restaurant manager, so her weekend's are not her own), and others live out of town (Hi Cindy! Happy Belated Birthday!); but I thought of them as I paused to gather up the loose strands of different conversations, and allowed the energy of the evening to wipe away the last vestiges of the blue funk that had colored the last few weeks a dull grey. How can I possibly remain sad when there are such characters at play?