A Guest at Many Tables
By Mary Barras
What do you do to escape; when you really need to fly the coop and retreat from the suck? Do you get into your cryogenic decompression chamber, drink lots of Boone's Farm wine, and breathe in and out of a paper bag? Maybe you mow the lawn in your underwear. To each his/her own! Me? I visit with friends or family and share a bevvie or a meal for comfort. If I'm having a personal struggle, I might confide in them to hear their pearls of wisdom. Other times we just share some laughs.
When I was a little kid, I did much the same. Things got a little hairy in my household. When I say hairy, I mean there was a lot of yelling. This wasn't the place you'd go to mediate a conflict, you know what I mean? I escaped the chaos by getting on my Schwinn banana seat bike and visiting with the many families in our neighborhood.
While I was on these "freedom rides," I'd feel the proverbial wind in my hair and spring in my feet. Each family had a different nickname for me. The McCrees called me Loretta, at the Tweedles, I was Mary Lou, in the Flanagan home, I heard Maryola, and at the Pittmans, I went by Roberta. I had so much fun at other peoples' houses! I found a lot of peace in their non-yelling sanctuaries (at least that's what it felt like in my young mind). Dinner time would roll around and they'd invite me to stay. This was outstanding! I got to see how other families "do life." I was blessed to enjoy what they ate and it was always great! Isn't food that other people prepare just extraordinary? I was the beneficiary of some of the finest meals in Port Arthur, Texas! There was other people's gumbo, other people's meatloaf, roast beef, pork chops, chicken fricassee, and many kinds of meat prepared Cajun style; smothered with onions and bell peppers. My taste buds are on a slow trip back in time now!
This pattern of eating and food continues to this day. I've been inspired by every family's fabulous cooking prowess and now, as a grown-up, I absolutely adore cooking! One of my great joys in life is preparing an extravagant meal for friends and family or gladly inviting my son's friends for dinner. I'm happy to repay the kindness that was gifted to me! I am privileged to have been a guest at so many tables. Not only did the grownups teach me what volumes of cookbooks couldn't, they gave me the extra parenting and attention I so desired.
Be it entertaining friends with an unforgettable couple of courses, whipping up a quick appetizer, or taking my dish over for a potluck, cooking and sharing meals with others is still my escape. I just have nicer ride.
The author's name is Mary Barras. Visit my website http://www.marybarras.com to learn how I became an emotional warrior after tragedies in my life broke me!
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