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