Sunday, December 6, 2015
Wish you were here
This picture was texted to me this afternoon. Cousin Jennifer sent it.
"It's like you're here with us," she wrote.
"Here" would be Aunt Anna's apartment in Queens. She shares it with Aunt Rita. It's where many family gatherings have taken place through the years and judging from Jennifer's text yet another was in progress.
The picture inside the picture, the one leaning against a bowl of meatballs, is of me. It's my high-school graduation photo. I had to remember this because, well, that's how long it's been since I have seen it.
"You're kidding me," I peck typed. "Where in Hell did THAT come from?"
Nanoseconds later, Jen's response: "Going through old family photos. You should be here."
And then, the real reason for this correspondence: "You may have some competition! Aunt Anna is teaching me to make meatballs...
I'll admit that it is times like these that are most difficult for me. My family, most of them anyway, are roughly 325 away from where I am now. They live within minutes of each other, 20 tops, in New York's outer boroughs. It's often that they spend time together, for a coffee in the afternoon or to play cards or to take a trip to the butcher or to a doctor's appointment. The best gatherings take place on Sunday afternoons, of course, for the main meal of the week, and these can take place in any number of locations. This is the event Jennifer was taking part in at Anna and Rita's when she texted today. It's what I was missing out on, in other words.
Loss comes in many forms, even joyous ones.
I was not about to allow melancholy to disturb Jennifer's day, however.
"Oh yeah," I typed, brushing off my own sadness. "What's she using, bread or breadcumbs?"
It is the question that must be asked.
"Breadcrumbs," Jen responded. "They are really good too."
"Not possible," I shot back. "Not with breadcrumbs. Meatballs have to be made with wet bread. My aunt oughta know better. And you can tell her I said so too."
It was a few minutes and no response, then finally: "We'll have to have a contest next time you're here. Be fun."
"Nope, no contests. I'm not going to show up my aunt in front of everybody. I love her too much. Have her show you how to make tripe instead. That I know she makes the right way at least."
"No!! No tripe for me," my cousin shot back. "She says she loves you too."
Jen was right. I should have been there.
Posted by Mister Meatball at 7:27 PM