Jamie and I decided to reduce our cabin fever by taking a ride to Wegman’s yesterday.
It had everything the heart desires, where dishes come true. We loved the amazing selection of seafood and meats. And, don’t get me
started on cheese, which my son once said, is,”like heroin for women”. I may need to go to rehab.
I had eaten a couple of Eggo waffles before take-off and was somewhat satisfied. I’ve learned the hard way, not to go shopping on an empty stomach. But, this wasn’t shopping, it was a food fantasy. If I hadn’t eaten, it would have been pure gluttony. This crossed my mind at the checkout, as I realized if I was hungry, the bill could have the potential to challenge the national debt.
Our first ride was at the sushi counter. The color of the sashimi was so bright, it was like twinkling lights. The only time I’ve seen sushi that fresh was when a store most likely bathed it in sulfa. This was the real deal. There was a silent stand-off between getting the tuna or salmon, which ended in compromise.
We were ready to tear ourselves away from the sushi station when a little girl, maybe 9 yrs old, said to her mother, “look Mommy, a
squid.” I turned and gave Jamie a gourmet-smirk, and cued eye rolling. There in the case sat a fresh octopus, clearly
marked in black magic marker lettering (on a piece of wood for authentic presentation) OCTOPUS. Don’t get me wrong,
I love children. I especially love children that can read. But my youngest son wasn’t much older than her when I brought an
octopus home for dinner. He was like a little Shackleton, braving the tentacles and figuring out how to not only cook it, but survive the
experience. He cooked it, ate it and loved it. I chickened out. The dog ate the head.
The alluring light emitted from the hundreds of cases was almost too much to handle. It was like the opposite of a magnetic force field. We spent some time examining the different kinds of pate. Jamie is going to make a Beef Wellington, and a pate lined crust is critical. Each pate looked like the other, but I felt the need to look like I was discriminating. They didn’t have what he was looking for, and we both found ourselves looking at the section below pate, to the caviar. He asked me if I wanted caviar, and again, I felt an air of snobbiness come over me. “Not really” I said. I thought that if you were going to buy caviar, shouldn’t it come from Moscow, Paris or New York? The packages looked fancy enough, but I pictured myself in a cashmere cape, strolling into a little shop in Paris taking samples, and politely ordering a generous quantity for a dinner party with a few of my classy French friends. We slowly backed away from the pate, and let the crowd lull us to our next target.
There is so much to write about the experience, but I encourage anyone who is feeling frozen and hold-up in their house to go and check it out. You don’t have to be on a pate mission, or looking for anything you can’t pronounce. Just have fun, pick up dinner, and most importantly DO NOT GO ON AN EMPTY STOMACH.
I ran down the long staircase, rushing as I lost my breath. She was at the bottom of the stairs waiting for me. Nana had passed 10 years ago, but there she was standing on an oriental rug silently watching me, dressed in a wool coat with her back against the front door. I saw Auntie Mary standing next to her, looking into the room to her left and right. Mary had died a few years before Nana, which broke her heart to pieces. It broke everyone’s heart really. They were now constant companions in their world, just as they were in life. The three of us stared at each other as I caught my breath, standing on the landing. Why were they here?
The house was an old Victorian where I lived with my then husband. It was a magnificent house that showed off the glory of it’s time. Crown molding, hardwood floors and fireplaces anchored the rooms with splendor. I loved the house, but hated the marriage. The growing struggle to keep a meaningless marriage together was exhausting, set against the grand harmony of this structure. I had to get out.
Both Mary and Nana were now totally focused on me. I tried to talk, but words wouldn’t come out. There was an expression of sympathy from Mary, and I slowly nodded my head to signal to her that I was OK. But, I wasn’t OK. There were so many things that I needed to talk to Nana about, to have her save me. She brought comfort to me when she was alive, just by giving me tea or feeding me her incredible butter-slathered Irish Bread. So many times, after she passed, I looked for the nourishment only a grandmother can give. I wanted Nana to talk, but she just smiled at me.
Turning, she opened the door and walked out to the front porch. I could see Mary move into the formal parlor out of the corner of my eye, as I slowly followed Nana outside. It was a cold autumn evening that smelled of maple leaves and frost. I followed in a hypnotic daze, as my shoes crunched on twigs and leaves. She stopped at a bench that I don’t remember ever being on the property, and we sat down.
I put my head in her lap and started to cry. I cried for bad choices that I had made, I cried for getting into a bad marriage, I cried for not being a better mother, I cried for not being the ideal daughter, I cried for global warming for God sakes, I cried for nothing at all, and I cried because I simply missed her. She had been gone much of my adult life. Still silent, she rubbed my back and arm and told me without speaking that she loved me and will always watch over me. I would have loved to hear that sweet Irish brough, but it wasn’t important at the moment. Everything was said.
I haven’t been visited in my dreams by Nana since that night, but she does live in my heart. I think of her often when I need relief, the way she rubbed my back on that bench. I have a wonderful mother, who is an incredible grandmother to my children. She comforts them, and gives them tea when they need it. Her Irish bread is good, just not as good as Nana’s.