Right now I am procrastinating meal planning this week. We are exactly one week away from packing up the trailer and hitting the road North, and so how do you plan for meals exactly, when you know that in just a few days you will be packing up your kitchen utensils and will be emptying out the cupboards of food?
It feels like a jumbo rubix cube the size of my kitchen. If I move this, will it snap into place over here? If I pack this will I need it later to cook? If I don't buy anymore deli meat, will we run out and be scrounging around for lunches before we leave? It's a matter of not wanting to waste, but also not wanting to be left hungry and spending all our money to eat out.
And really the psychological puzzle of planning our meals this week is just the face of the much deeper emotional puzzle that lies underneath. We have been scheduling dinners with friends in order to 1) not have to cook this last week but also and more significantly to 2) say "goodbye."
And here are the flips and turns of my heart when I think about this next week: "If I say goodbye to them on Tuesday, will I wish I could say "goodbye" again on Saturday as we're pulling out of the parking lot? Will a dinner together be enough to bring closure or will I in a month be wishing I would have said "goodbye" in more significant ways? Is a cup of coffee here and a fruit salad there enough to wind up all the memories we've accumulated these last seven years? Is it enough to release this geography which has become our home?
A week ago Friday night, Dwayne and I spent the evening in Silver Lake with some friends. We met at Mae Ploy, one of the first Thai restaurants we visited in LA. The memory goes something like this: it was our second visit to Mosaic, and at the end of service a couple in front of us turned around to shake our hands. She was petite with tight jeans and long, silky black hair, he was talk and muscle-bound training to be a fire fighter.
"Do you want to go to dinner with us?" she asked.
Dwayne and I looked at each other stunned. Never before had we had perfect strangers invite us to dinner. "Sure," we said.
"Okay we'll take you to this great Thai place," she said and we followed them out of the dark corridors of the Los Angeles Entertainment Center and onto the lights of downtown.
We sat in Mae Ploy last week, seven years after our first visit, with new friends, and remembered the warmth and energy of our first encounter with LA.
We have lived so much of our lives in the small corners of LA over delicious meals. What about the first time we ever ate fish tacos at Wahoo's standing on Manhattan Beach Blvd, feeling the pulse of waves and people washing around us? Or our favorite nook at Par's restaurant, where one night after a particularly gravely argument Dwayne and I sat side by side and shared the best Lamb Shank I have ever tasted?
Or then there was the first time I ever tasted Caprese salad in the breezy back yard of a friend in Redondo Beach. I kept eating and eating and eating those delicious white puffs of mozerella with little tomato orbs drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette. The tangy, salty flavors jumbled down with the laughter and chatter of an evening surround by our Southbay small group.
What special memories. It seems hardly possible we are leaving them now.