This post may or may not be about vegetables.
This excerpt from her article caught my eye:
I watch my husband from the kitchen window as he pulls dead morning glory vines from the trellises. I love him differently than I did the day I married him. In the fifteen years we have been together, I have helped bury his father, he has cleaned up my vomit, we have both been bored by stories we've heard dozens of times. We have lost two pregnancies. Two falls ago, in one five-week stretch, we were each separately taken to the emergency room in an ambulance and had to start thinking about what it would mean to lose the person who has witnessed so much of our lives. Eventually, surely, one of us wil be left behind.
Andre Dubus describes the meals between married couples as not mere eating but a 'pausing in the march to perform an act together,' a sacrament that says, 'I know you will die; I am sharing food with you; it is all I can do, and it is everything.' My husband and I have eaten together maybe ten thousand times, in three states, in various rentals and then our house, at the same oak trestle table. Watching us, you could chronicle changes--I quit vegetarianism, he learned to cook, we started to say grace--but the act remains.
Christians regularly take communion, a ritually shared meal that acknowledges the mysteries of life and death, but meal-time is especially poignant in the fall, when Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, and Celts once celebrated Samhain, and ancient Greeks told the story of Persephone disappearing into the underworld--all harvest festivals that connect sharing food with death and gratitude. So we start with what the earth has given us. We shape it into something else. Perhaps there are candles. We talk. We have enough and are together, even though one of us will someday eat here alone.I read this, and I'm frustrated at the romanticization of the couple and of the mealtime. I think, here is someone who hasn't had kids needing to be taught table manners, who doesn't have people having farting contests at her dining table, who doesn't understand that for some people, dinner is just about shoving food in your mouth until you're not hungry anymore. This nostalgia--even if it is also about loss--is not available to me.
But then I soften a little. Because mealtimes are, in fact, sometimes sacred, and we work hard to capture those sacred moments, in case they happen to show up among all the madness. And maybe this is not a romanticization at all, but rather a recognition that in the mundane there is also love and meaning. "It is all I can do, and it is everything."
Part of me waits for pronouncements of the sacred, and is disappointed when there is only the mundane, which paradoxically has at its core the sacred. I look for the high, and miss it in the low.
The mundane and the sacred are not always easy to tease apart. Nor does my sacred always look like E's mundane. He's thinking hamburgers while I'm thinking prayer. He's soaking in a moment while I fret over work. Once in a while we land on the same moment, but it doesn't happen very often. I don't know whether to find this wearying, or also part of the way things go.
It is all we can do, and it is everything.