I eat a lot of meals alone. That's how it is as a single woman.
There's nothing sad about it. Do you know what's on my table? Most nights it's pretty nice. Rattling the pots for myself is important, and I'm worth it.
I don't often notice the absence of others. I like my company.
Then I began having dinner once a week with a large family.
Here was a thing I was missing. It made me happy. Having someone cook for me. The intergenerational conversations at the table — I'll never forget one night and the talk about high school civics. The kids trust me and consider my opinion.
Two nights ago there were seven of us, including a darling little girl who's a bonafide heart softener.
Like all families, the talk can get raucous — the back and forth between teenagers and parents in Arabic. Because I miss the context sometimes, I'll ask, "What are you talking about?"
I'm often the last one at the table. Squeezing everything out of it. Scooping up the last bits with torn pieces of pita. I don't think I've ever left anything on my plate. Appreciation is visible.
I can smell dinner as soon as I exit the elevator before I knock on the door with the red heart wreath. Ghaithaa cooks like an angel. I peer into the steam when she lifts the lids on simmering pots. We talk about cooking and recipes in a mix of Arabic and English. Understanding runs between us.
She is a sister to me.
On the way home, there's always a bag of leftovers on the subway seat beside me. At midnight Friday, it was fresh lamb, toasted and ground coriander and cumin, and a container of Molokhia made with fresh jute mallow bought at a store in Mississauga. Their excitement at finding ingredients from back home. The stew of chicken and greens is pure comfort — ghee and lemon emulsify into a creamy broth.
And there are the new-to-me traditions like eating at sundown during Ramadan. Barbecuing kebabs in the park — smoke and the aroma of spices rising to meet the dusk.
For giving a little in a time of need, I received.
A new family. A place at a dinner table.
An absolute glut of love.
Nothing takes the past away
Like the future
Nothing makes the darkness go
Like the light
You're shelter from the storm
Give me comfort in your arms
Nothing really matters
Love is all we need
Everything I give you (Everything I give you)
All comes back to me
All the time.
So fucking boring.
I went to Venice at 30.
First trip to Europe. On scholarship.
In a water taxi. Speeding along the Canal Grande. From the Santa Lucia train station to the Peggy Guggenheim museum.
A glorious April day. Powder blue sky. Woolly clouds.
'How did I get here?'
Straight to the American Abstract Expressionists. The paintings and sculptures. That period in New York cultural history.
Left my bag at the coat check.
Had so many firsts.
Seeing a Calder. Amorphous puddles of colour hung like lures on fishing rod wisps of silver. The shadow-cast play on white walls.
Jackson Pollock. Willem de Kooning.
Do you know the feeling? Having an out-of-body experience. Standing in front of an original.
Something you've seen in books. Or in an art history lecture — dark room, slides shuffling in the carousel.
I cried at the Musée d’ Orsay. In a state of rapture.
Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe. Édouard Manet.
Spanish teenagers on a high school trip squeezing in on me.
Food is good.
So is painting. And pottery...music…poetry…photography…movies…theatre…family…friends…bike rides…ice cream…clouds…beaches...trees…bird song...
Where does the list end?
Spent a Venetian night in a convent.
I always thought my grandmother, Theo, made a snug bed.
The nuns made getting between the sheets a form of penance. Like putting on skinny jeans right out of the shower.
I went to markets and restaurants.
But the first few hours. I still carry in my heart.
Two new-to-me songs from this week.
Yeah, we’re related.
The eyes. Chuck had them too.
Sitting at the bar at the Slanted Door. 2010. Late afternoon snack.
The day began in line at Tartine. Then we drove over the Golden Gate in her convertible. Top down. Head back.
Marigold metal. Delphinium blue sky.
Don't let it end.
Aunt Pat. My dad's sister. Theo and Harry's daughter.
She’s celebrating this week.
I want you to know. How much I love her.
My mom was ill. Went away for six weeks.
When I was three.
My dad could not look after me. And work too.
Pat took me in.
She told me I was quiet. At first.
Sat on her couch. Leafed through magazines.
While my cousins' played.
Trying to add up. In my little head.
Why my mom and dad left.
I could be better.
My memory of that period is blank.
I knew none of this until I was in my thirties. My dad told me one night at dinner.
Coins clink. Pinball game lights up.
Why I liked being with her. She always had time for me.
Once, we spent a day watching classic films from the 70s. Started with Midnight Cowboy.
That kind of time. Peak happiness.
I have a photo from that period.
I could not look at it. For a long time.
These are my hands. I see worry.
A psychiatrist told me it would be hard to heal. That it might not happen.
Last sheet on the prescription pad.
And yet here I am. Dealing with it.
This is part of me.
And it's not everything.
I wish I could hug you. Hope anyone reading this wants to do that.
There's a jar of strawberry jam in my kitchen. With your name on it.
Damn, it's good.
It's been a few brilliant weeks in music.
Maggie Rogers. Shooting Star.
Beyonce's tribute to Madonna.
"You are a masterpiece genius.”
A reason to get up and dance.
July 29, 2022
July 26, 2022
Have you had that experience?
Maybe it's me.
Who owes you.
Working through it. Letting go.
I carried an apology for 28 years.
It's a fasten your seat belt story.
I want to tell it. To a room of people I know will understand. And love me, still.
I worked on it again in 2021. For the hundredth time.
Finally. Found freedom.
Long-term sobriety. Good guidance. Got me there.
It's hard to find accurate words for gratitude.
I'd sometimes get up with the summer birds in Stratford and cycle back country roads alone.
Azure sky. Gold lame sun. Green corn. White felt clouds. Black liquorice road.
It felt like that.
What took so long?
Breaking patterns. Takes muscle. And time.
Like wrestling in a hot room.
Accepting the lesson. Seeing the importance.
Aiming for humility. Missing it. Sometimes.
I don’t apologize for stuff that’s not mine.
That's a bad habit.
All people. Every human on the planet.
Has used furniture in their backyard.
And the right to own or ignore it.
A good story. With one side?
"All people are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong."
I know I can be colorful, I know I can be gray
But I know this loser's living fortunate
I know you will love me either way
© Deborah Reid, 2021 - 2023. All Rights Reserved.