Apart from the usual holiday festivities: the joining of family and friends and the over-indulging in tasty holiday delicacies–drama is usually a part of the overall experience. This Thanksgiving was no different. The underlying tension revolving around the impending nuptials abroad for one brother and his fiancé was for the moment, forgotten and instead, blanketed by the aroma of roasted turkey and simmering side dishes. I came down the stairs and noticed the absence of chatter, realizing that the crew had already begun munching. My man had so thoughtfully served me a plate–I find myself still smiling at these little acts of thoughtfulness, often wondering why they resonate so well with me.
The meal went on and chatter started up again. Creamy cheese-covered broccoli and buttery, silky mashed squash had a new taste this year. I recalled the previous Thanksgiving where the same dishes offered no satisfaction. I had already forgotten, as I stuffed my face, about how just one year earlier I didn’t realize the turkey had finished roasting or that there were pots simmering because I couldn’t smell a thing. The concussion I suffered the July before last Thanksgiving rendered me impaired. Instead of dropping an obscene amount of weight, I simply gorged more (and I’ve read in some places this has to do with the fact that the brain doesn’t compute that you’ve had enough deliciousness for one sitting and therefore are full–because there is nothing delicious about the mechanical action of shoving food in your mouth without the right nerves in your brain working!). Instead of only being able to distinguish sweet from sour, salt and spice, I was able to taste the walnuts in the cranberry sauce and the buttery nuttiness of the mashed root veggies I was enjoying. Just one year earlier, only white wine tasted somewhat palatable, with red wine having the same effect as a cup of coffee or a glass of flat soda–well, with the added value of total inebriation if I drank enough of it and the off-chance that I’d forget my current tasteless plight of an existence (it was a big deal).
The night progressed, ending at a neighborhood dive bar where cans of Pabst were $2 each and the proprietor of the fine establishment donned nothing more than a dingy white undershirt and a penchant for calculating tabs in his head–to the detriment of his intoxicated patrons. After downing one too many, the liquid courage of one sibling announced that no one wanted to go abroad for the French nuptials. A bit taken by surprise, the thoughtful husband-to-be and his lethargic lady were more surprised by the choice of venue to make the announcement rather than the actual statement. Words flew, we listened, bantered light-heartedly…and then I left, at first just annoyed, followed by extreme pangs of anger, resulting in a rage-induced, sobbing cell-phone rant to my brother from the top of my lungs as I combed through the jet black roads in this now suddenly hostile Maine backdrop. Such sentiments would have been appreciated 18 months earlier (not that we would have changed any of it).
With encouragement from my brother to “not give them the satisfaction” of knowing how upset I was, I slapped myself a few times, ran in place, thought of the eye of the tiger, and marched over to the backdoor, where I preceded to creep in with the hopes of not running into anyone. Of course fast-forward to sobbing in the mother-in-law’s embrace and then bolting when I realized the crew had returned, having themselves been kicked out of the bar and calls to the police threatened. In mid sentence I darted off yelling that I had to “hide!!” And immersed my face in a sink full of ice cold water. I sauntered over to the stairs, feeling like I’d been beat up and had too much to drink (after only having had half a beer an hour earlier, I was wondering what happened to the rest of it. Was it still on the table at the bar or had it been flung at someone after, of course, being finished off first so as not to waste anything…)
I tried to sneak upstairs but was intercepted mid stair-climb. My man took one look at me and his glazed over expression of defeat transitioned into a moment of epiphany. Realizing I was full of shit and was most certainly bothered by the night’s events (I had previously assured him on the phone that I was fine and just tired), he marched over to the kitchen and bellowed to the family to meet him in the living room. I sat at the top of the stairs cuddled up with the family dog, both of us thankful to have one another to lean on as it was quite drafty up there. This usually respectful guy got his point across, most likely getting the desired effect due to the sheer volume of his voice and use of occasional profanity, and the parental units were more than cool about the situation, taking it upon themselves to speak for the family in that “from today onward, you won’t have any [passive aggressive emails, hints, or complaints] negativity from the family.” The ordeal was rounded off by an awkward but maybe even sincere group hug and we scattered.
It was strange since we went to bed, my man and I, feeling better about everything. We knew it was just a matter of time before things blew up–we just didn’t realize it would blow up that huge. That was probably the first time they seemed like family to me–although I’m sure I could have had that same feeling without the blowout…but maybe not.