My favorite type of meal is a celebratory meal and this week I have been inundated with them. I went to one of my closest childhood friend’s bachelorette party in South Dartmouth last weekend. Fifteen girls gathered to celebrate. We made tortilla soup and tacos for dinner, and eggs and bacon and hash browns for breakfast both mornings. We took turns stirring and taste testing, chopping vegetables and toasting bagels, we added salt, and we nodded in agreement at the improvement. It was collaborative and communal and satisfying in a way that I wasn’t expecting.
After such a fun weekend, returning to routine can be difficult. But after two of those weekends in a row, returning to the quiet monotony of home was exactly what I wanted and needed. Plus, Matt and I had our own reason to celebrate. On Monday, he gave notice at his firm. He’ll be starting a new job next month. So, I stopped by the corner store on my way home Monday night and picked up supplies: a box of cavatappi, some shrimp, and a bag of romaine. I made pesto out of my overgrown basil and thyme and Ceasar dressing from anchovies, garlic, lemon and egg. It was random, quick, and felt like the perfect meal for the moment.
I set our plates down on the coffee table along with two wine glasses and a very special bottle of pinot noir that Oliver and Erin gave us nearly a year ago. The wine was a thank you gift to Matt, who acted as their proxy while they were abroad and signed on the dotted line twenty million times (approximately) at the closing on their house. We’ve been waiting for the right moment to open the bottle and we both agreed that this was it.
Matt poured the wine. We started eating, he started telling me about his day. “Let’s move to the dining table,” he said. We turned off the television. We sat across from each other and listened intently. This has always been my secret (or not so secret) dream, that we would eat our dinner at a perfectly set table with the candles lit and the lights low and the food arranged on our plates like a Martha Stewart magazine cover. When we first moved into our new home, I tried to force this perfect dinner world on us and I was successful for about a month before we regressed to our comfy couch or sitting cross-legged on the living room floor. So, when Matt suggested we relocate, it made my heart swell because I knew he suggested it for me.
It was a lovely evening, a date really. We stayed up late reconnecting after a long weekend apart. I did the dishes before going to bed and left the wine glasses by the sink to clean the next night. But in the morning, I found the two glasses side by side on the drying mat, spotlessly clean and catching the early light. It’s these things – a meal with old friends, a date at the dining table, and the evidence of a tedious chore done quietly in the night – that are the simplest and most rewarding pleasures.