I woke Sunday morning feeling like I had swallowed battery acid and a freight train had run smack dab through the center of my skull. We had spent the entire day before, starting at 9:30 AM mind you, in some form of celebratory buzzery; waking still hazy from the night before when the kids took us to their favorite local dive bar, (and should you ever find yourself in Louisville Kentucky, (yeah I didn’t think I would either) and want a cool place for cheap drinks and insane people watching you must check out The Back Door) having post graduation cocktails, (like a lot of them) with lunch and ending with a, “I Graduated Suckas” party at Jeremy’s….one celebrating two of the kids, (both named Jeremy oddly enough) that had gotten their degree that day…..ugh.
Now you know those parents that would “Pop on by” a raging house party their child was having, you know, make an appearance and then get the fuck out before the wheels came off the bus? Yeah, I’m not one of those. My in-laws were the smart ones, they came by right as the thing was getting started. When the kids were sipping their beers or mixing their first drink and still had clear eyes and coherent speech. They “popped by” met a couple people and then high tailed it back to their hotel but as it turns out, and I was told as much by several of the glossy eyed, speech slurring party goers, our family, (which includes my best friends Amy & Roger) have become something of a legend with this group of kids. Started two trips back but was magnified by the last trip when Amy and Roger joined us, the trip where we cooked for them and matched them shot for shot, drink for drink and knocked many of the young ones right on their ass. Party monsters, we were legendary party monsters round those parts, I’m so proud….
By my third gin & tonic, from a red plastic cup, (aka keg or beer pong cup) no less, I was feeling my age but knowing that Jeremy, our Jeremy happened to love the fact that his family was known for being able to hang with his homies, well I knew I was not leaving anytime soon. I spent the evening chatting with a few of the kids, a couple of them attached to my side and following me from room to room as they told me their life’s story. Sweet really, the way they opened up and seemed, in a way, to find comfort in my mom-ness….was like I had a couple little ducklings, drink mixing ducklings but ducklings none the less. As the night progressed my memory and sharpness took their leave; kept misplacing my drink….not to worry I had ducklings to make me another, I called my son’s ex-girlfriend by the name of his latest “hook-up” and had a minor MILFing moment….time to go. Sunday morning, “Oh Mother of Gawd! Who scotch taped my tongue to the roof of my fucking mouth?!” Ouch…..
My little band of broken soldiers did their best, we tried to eat….shudder, went to Indiana to hit the river casino, oh-my-gawd the flashing lights, dank mildew smell, thick air filled with decades of cigarette smoke and the screaming of the slot machines, but this was Jeremy’s weekend and we all sucked it up as best we could. I might just mention, Jeremy was looking a little green himself so I think he too was paying for this legendary status crap. I looked at my watch, shit 4:30 and we still had to put on a full dinner for Jeremy’s roommates and a few of his friends. Hanging on by a very fine thread to say the very least. Dropped Amy & Roger at their hotel for a nap while we made the trek to Whole Foods, (not down the street might I add) compiled a bunch of ingredients and headed to Jeremy’s where we would be met by the in-laws and begin cooking.
“You know, you’ve had one hell of a year already” my husband had said to me as I shakily tried to apply my eyeliner that morning. “You were taken to Italy, you’re about to turn 40, you had a long lost Uncle contact you and teach you stuff about the dad you never knew, had a friend take her own life and now Jeremy is graduating” I think, no I know I made some kind of, “Dude no shit" face and said something along the lines of, “Duh” but it was those words that were in my head as I quickly grabbed one of the bottles of wine I had brought specifically for this dinner. I was needing a little hair of the dog and craving something civil, grabbed an icy bottle of Francois Chidaine 2010 Rose from the freezer, (because of course the kids fridge was broken) poured myself a deep glass and stood there, forearms resting along the still sticky with booze counter, avoiding taking my deep sniffs of the wine for fear of being queasy, eyes taking in the beautiful pale pink, my son’s voice coming from the living room, a few of his things strewn about the kitchen, “You’ve had one hell of a year already” floating around in my pounding head. I brought the glass to my lips, gave it a slight tilt and took a deep breath as the freezer chilled wine crawled up the side of the glass and made my dry lips feel icy cold. As the very familiar flavors of Chidaine spilled across my palate my shoulders went softer, my back seemed to settle into my hips and my eyelashes fell gently across the tops of my cheeks, “One hell of a year indeed”
Flitted around the kitchen, dodging my mother in-law as she whipped up a batch of her amazingly succulent chicken cutlets, weaved around the husband as he rolled out and stuffed his famous pork pies, stood in a corner chopping olives and roasted peppers before assembling the Muffaletta sandwiches that Jeremy requested that I make, juice glass of Chidaine Rose at my side the whole time, exhaling….
The kids coming in and out of the kitchen to see how close we were ringing the dinner bell, the food, thankfully, being done in shifts so we could fill trays and watch the offerings vanish before filling them with something else, I was coming back to life. The look on Jeremy’s face as he devoured the foods he grew up eating, the pride with which he nodded when his friends moaned and went back for more, the wine in my glass, the ringing of the doorbell and hearing Amy’s voice, my wrist once again twisting as I drove yet another corkscrew into the neck of a bottle of Dagueneau Silex. The faces, smells and flavors in that kitchen….the faces, flavors and smells in my glass, family.
We ended the evening by filling up those red plastic cups, big frothy patch of white as the bubbles rose in the “glass” a bottle of NV Pierre Peters drained and arms in the air, “To you kid. Congratulations and we are so very proud of you Jeremy” my son and I taking just an extra second to stare in each other’s eyes, exchanging our shared smirk, “Been one hell of a year kid” slipping from my lips, “To family” slipping from his….
Everything changes, life just works that way and when lucky each one of those changes becomes part of who we are. The growth, the pain, the accomplishments and the setbacks happen, you can rail against it or learn from them, incorporate all of that into the already complex strung together moments that got you to that particular moment, let the new things weave themselves into our structure making us that much stronger, ready to take on the next. I believe that with all that I am but sometimes….well sometimes I need that shared smirk, the smell of pork pies, a glass of Dagueneau or Chidaine to flash a mirror in my face, remind me where I was….where I came from, who I am now and push me to be the woman I want to become.
“To family” indeed…..