A hamburger was for dinner tonight, and not cooked by me. And not cooked by my son. Or my daughter.
It should have been beans. I had begun soaking the rest of the pack of canellinni beans last night. I told my son this morning before leaving for work in the south bay that he needed to cook them. I told him how. Chop an onion. Add a bay leaf. Add plenty of water. Don’t let them dry out, or they’ll burn. Simmer them for an hour.
I worked in the south bay for almost nine hours and began the one-hour drive home at 7:30. I called him at 8, said I’d be home in half an hour. Said, please have dinner ready. Put the rice on now. Start the vegetables.
When I clambered out of the car and walked in the house, a little reluctant to leave the debate on NPR on whether online dating has killed romance, no activity was apparent on or near the stove. No lights were on. No food was on the table. No aromas emanated from the kitchen.
My heart sank.
I cried up the stairs, where’s dinner. The answer came back oh sorry it’s not made.
I left. I should have stayed, perhaps, and made dinner, or asked for my son to make dinner, but I was exhausted. More than that though, I was irritated, and highly at that. My son is 19. He was home far more hours today than I was or his sister. He didn’t make dinner happen. And he knew he should have.
I turned on my heel and left. I had a burger at a restaurant a few miles away. It was a good burger, actually, better than I expected it to be. Tender, pink, truly medium rare, with cheese and sauteed onions. But it was heavy, fatty, with too much bread. I spent money I shouldn’t have. I ordered dessert because I was pissed and resentful and wanted to get back at… who? I was self-destructive.
I texted with a couple of friends, scrolled through Facebook, sickened myself with articles about Trump and plastic and poisoned fathers and daughters and the rest of it.
A violinist and guitarist at the front of the room were my saving grace, the only thing tethering me to anything nice about life.
I looked around and it seemed like every woman in the place was old, and blonde. I noted there was not a single person of color, thought I conceded there was some diversity, namely an Asian couple.
I sat in the corner. A tea light candle flickered in a tortured, brown, blown-glass vessel. A couple of old, frosted blonde women sat beside me and discussed real estate. When the one on the banquette beside me scooted out to go to the bathroom and I solicitously moved my purse out of her way, she glared at me.
It was that kind of place.
I was mad. But not really at the place. Not even at my son, though, ostensibly, that’s who I was mad at.
I was hurt, really. I was hurt that my son couldn’t find it in his heart to have food on the stove when I walked in though I’ve been feeding him two hot meals a day almost without fail for 19 years.
I was hurt the kitchen was empty and dark when I walked in the house, tired.
I was irritated that the highways were still clogged at 7:30. That I had to inch over the bridge, bumper to bumper, at 7:50.
I was upset that I had abandoned my home because I wanted to teach my son a lesson. I know very well that it stresses him inordinately when I spend money I don’t have. So, turning around and leaving to have dinner out is a bad idea, and a great way to turn the knife.
I thought stubbornly as I peeled away from the front of the house that I was teaching him a lesson.
I knew he wanted me home.
The truth is, I wanted to be home too. I wanted to crawl into my jammies, eat lightly and healthily, do a twist on the floor near my doggy. Read and write, visit with my kids, feel safe and loved and home.
Not be in some stupid, over-priced, over-rich restaurant with a bunch of old blonde ladies talking about real estate.
Scrolling through Facebook compulsively. Drinking too much red wine. Feeling alone. Being alone.
It was a waste. A waste of my time, my money, my self. It made me feel awful. What was worse, toward the end of my stay in that lonely place, a trio of men came in. Men who only three years ago would have looked at me. Even if they chose not to approach me or let their eyes linger, they at least would have appraised me.
It’s different being on the eve of 50. 47 is still a little sexy. Barely, maybe, but still.