On Tuesdays I have two hours between when school gets out and my photography class. I usually stay after school and get some things done and then head out to downtown Winter Garden for dinner.
And it's always a table for one.
Every tuesday. It's just me alone at the table... single plate, single fork, single cup. It's not just Tuesdays that this happens... it can happen any day. I have been fortunate enough that it doesn't happen to often. I have friends that eat meals with me all the time and every week day I get to eat lunch with Nicole. But dinners alone are hard. Whether they are out at a restaurant or at home. John was always such good company when we would go out to eat. First, we made it fun. Our favorite game (and something we were very competative with) was sugar soccer. It's where you take a sugar packet and slide it across the table and try to get part of the package to hang off the edge without falling over. We had two ways of playing the game. The pansy way... with just a point system. Or the serious way. Where every time the other person scored you had to eat the sugar packet. Sure, it sounds not bad at first. But when you are at a busy restaurant and the food is taking forever... next thing you know you have 10 empty sugar packets next to you and a massive feeling of throwing up. But, in the end..I always won more games than John when it came to sugar soccer.
The other day I went out to eat with my friend, Zack. I wanted to play the game. But I held my tongue. I refused. Deep inside I know it wouldn't be the same. Sometimes I get weird trying to share my John traditions with others. Especially because sometimes John was the only one that got it... he understood.
John and I had the same food obsessions... from sushi to thai food... we were food twins. And partly because we introduced each other to foods. And we had our favorite restaurants. In Tallahassee we ALWAYS had to stop by ONE stirfry and Osaka for their snow white sushi. While living there we also enjoyed a little place called California sushi. This was the place where John learned how to make the perfecr sushi rice. It was owned by a cute Japanese couple and one day they gave us lessons while we were there since there were no other customers. In Orlando we liked many places. Thai Thani by Sea World was always at the top of our list along with Melting Pot. How can you go wrong with Melting Pot? Hatsuhana... a little Japanese place by John's parents had our favorite salmon roll.
When we lived in Hunters Creek it was always Tiajuana Flats and Ritas Italian Ice. And I can't forget our sick obession with Maggie Moo Moos in 2008. It was a serious addiction. So much John almost got a job there he loved it so much.
If we weren't eating out we were eating in. John didn't have many specialties but the ones he had boggled me. He made PERFECT sushi. Of all things he couldn't make... and yet sushi was his specialty! I always felt so guilty when he made it... it took him hours. And when he presented it to me I would praise him. And then eat like two rolls before I was like, "ok, Im done." Mainly because I hated the sea weed wraps Publix sold.
He was also great at making home made pizza. I bought him a pizza stone when we were living in our apartment in Hunters Creek and it started the obsession right then and there. Our fridge was constantly stocked with pizza dough and various toppings. After we realized how unhealthy it was... and after leaving the pizza stone in the oven multiple times and forgetting it was in there... we had to stop. I threw the stone away to prove a point.
Our biggest addiction.
We seriously had to make sure never to buy it because it would be gone in one day. When we lived with John's parents the cokes were always in abundance. It was never good. When we would diet sometimes I would sneak down to grab one when John wasn't looking. But, he always caught me because of how loud it is when the lid pops open. He would be like "you better not!!" So, we made a vow. Only drink soda when we are at the movie theaters. Ok, fair enough. Needless to say we went to the movies frequently. And got a large coke that you could refill. One straw. John would do this weird thing where he would bite the end of the straw so only a little liquid would come out. It drove me nuts. I would always reshape it and then he would just do it again. It was a constant battle. And he would always drink more and faster than me. So, when it came time to refill I would try to guilt him into doing it. It didn't always work.
Movie dates were fond memories. They were our escape days. But what were we possiby escaping? The stress of life? Little did I know then my life was cake. It couldn't have been more simple. And now.... it's extremely challenging and complicated.
And it can take a table set for one to make it clear.
To make the reality sink in once again.
That John won't be sitting across from me... or next to me... anymore (we had a tendency to sit next to each other in booths).
He won't be ordering a coke or a water or a gin and tonic.
I won't be cooking his favorite meals anymore... chicken and cheesy rice, taco salad, autumn chicken, stir fry, pizza bagels, ...
We won't share a straw or nibble off each other's food.
He won't be ordering a grande coffe with two extra shots of espresso from starbucks anymore.
I am ordering food for one.
I am cooking food for one.
I am eating alone.
In a booth. At a table. In a bar. In the car. In a plane. On the couch.
No conversations about calories and carbs with a slight mix of politics.
Just me. In silence.
Hearing myself chew and reminding myself of how it used to be.
When the table was set for two.