Sunday, December 2, 2012

Go West, Part III

I got a little excited and off track when it came to our 'new' truck, but I promised to tell you how we ended up here and that's what I'm going to do.

I think scouting gave Mike an attitude of wanderlust.  Age has him growing roots here, but when he was younger, he was bursting with the potential to go somewhere.  By the time I met him, Mike had hiked in Colorado.  He had gone caving, climbing, and whitewater rafting in West Virginia. He'd paddled the Delaware and Hudson rivers, creeks and lakes in the Pine Barrens, and multitudes of lakes in the Adirondacks. He'd crawled through caves in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. He'd sought adventure in Florida and lost money in Las Vegas.  But when I met him, Mike still lived in New Jersey.

His mom lived in New Jersey.  She was a warm-hearted single mom and a very good cook.  It would be easy for a guy who's twenty-four to find reasons not to leave.  The biggest reason was, no, not her cooking, but that she needed him.  Her cooking came a close second.

I'm pretty good at baking, but most of what I know about cooking came from Mike who wanted me to be able to cook as well as his mom.  I try, but I still can't live up to that.  Macaroni and cheese.  Pot roast.  Cauliflower and cheese sauce.  Chicken fricassee.  Tuna mac.  Chicken soup.  Those are the things Mike has tried to teach me.  I'm pretty good at it now, but his mom was an amazing cook. 

Even after he moved out, Mike would use his key to walk into his mom's apartment, going straight to the fridge where he'd stand there looking into it.

"What are you making me," he'd say.  She was always ready for that one.  I've never managed to throw together a delicious meal the way she could at the last minute.  Mike and I would sit in the living room watching television and she'd chatter away to us, refusing help, all the while conjuring up something that drove my sense of smell nuts until it was ready to eat. 

The meals were amazing, but my favorite part of the night was when we were leaving.  Then, she would hug me so tightly, as if I belonged to her.  Next, she'd grab Mike's head, making him bend down to her level, and she'd kiss the top of his head with both hands still holding his cheeks.  She needed him.  He needed to be fed, to hear her chatter away like a happy bird.  He needed to be kissed that way on the top of his head. 

Oh, I'm going to have to tell you the next part next.  Can you tell this is not easy?  I promise.  I'll tell you.  I will. Tomorrow.  Right now, I want to sit with that memory, the way Mike's mom loved so deeply, the way she included me, and the way it lit up this man that I loved from the inside out.

Thank you for listening, jb

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