[from the desk of Julien Strangler]
They're coming over for dinner. They'll be a table full. We'll have to move the suculents, and the cactus, and you won't mind because for some reason you have something against them. Maybe they're too easy to take care of, and you like the challenge of the difficult plants in the bathroom, the ones that keep nearly dying and you keep nursing back to health. They stretch to the sunlight in the window, they have leaves and small flowers to open.
We don't have a regular table, we don't have the room so the couch has been pushed back and we're borrowing a folding card table from work. There will only be the four of us. Me and you and your grandmother and her husband. Your nervous about us cooking for them; strangely, after all this time, this is the first time we've cooked for them. For anyone in our family really. You worry your grandmother will make suggestions, post-anythinganyonecandoaboutit, about the food and what it's missing and what it has too much of, and how much longer it should have been cooked for. Or not. I worry about burning the Salmon on the unreliable broiler.
There is a bottle of Vodka in the freezer, that has been there for months- since your mother was in town- ready for your grandmothers husband. Your grandfather. We think that there is enough to keep him chipper throughout dinner and for most of the cab ride back to their hotel.
They won't stay out late.
I arrange the cactus and the succulents, in a neat triangle of plants you don't like, on the trolley next to the television. We are resetting the channels because the cable keeps going out of signal. Which is not surprising as we don't pay for it, and just plugged the cable we found sticking out of the wall into the back. We're almost certain it comes from the same place as the free wireless internet we steal. Astro's World. Your dad bought us the television, and although new and shiny and high tech and out of place in our apartment of plants and furniture we found on the street, we like it because it takes up less room than the old one, and it means we can have more candles everywhere. And keys, and Bobby Pins.
The channel programming function flickers near completion. You have on an apron, that I've never seen before to prevent any staining of the dress you're wearing. You look really pretty, in the evening sun and the candle light and the small lamp in the tiny kitchen. And not for the first time I wonder how I got here, to be so lucky, and how you worked up the courage to let me be here with you, to let us have this life together. I want to kiss you on the forehead and tell you that I'm sorry for anything bad I have ever done, for no particular reason at all. But I know it will confuse you, distract you from the task at hand, so I step across the grocery bags on the floor, turn my head to the top of yours while you stir the contents of the fancy Le Creuset pots that we could never have afforded ourselves, but were lucky enough to have bought for us, and in my head I say:
I'm sorry for all the things I've ever done that hurt you.
But outloud I say: Thank you
And you turn and smile, and say For What? For Cooking?
And I look at you, and I smile back and I tell you, No. For everything.
(see more here, particularly the one on egg creams)