When my mom was alive, she constantly invited me and my friends over to her house, wanting us to watch scary movies, play games and eat a home cooked meal. Rarely, if ever, did we take her up on her offer. Weekly I would go over and visit, sitting for long hours in her living room, having “dangling conversation”, over strong coffee to the backdrop of Bob Dylan or Neil Young. Typically our conversations would range from the art of tea in oriental literature to the importance of a woman in the Supreme Court or our differences and similarities in our opinions about addiction and recovery. Usually only two times a year would my friends and I go over and hang out, eating food and listening to music; her “Come As You Aren’t” party on Halloween and the night of The Academy Awards, where she would wear a silver, sweater set and black jeans with a name tag that said “Sharon Stone”. But we never played games. And we never watched scary movies. And during the almost 15 years that she lived there, I never stayed over night and had a slumber party. Not once. And while I’m not someone who believes much in regrets, because I prefer to look at missed opportunities as learning experiences, I still wish I had indulged her wishes…at least once.
Alex and I recently started a new tradition. We live a pretty social life, both having busy careers as well as running a social blog, but Sundays are Free Dinner night at our house. Every week we cook a different meal, complete with breads and deserts for our friends who show up, and the night is never complete without hours of playing the Wii as well as all of us sitting around on the floor, candles and fireplace burning, watching our television shows. Last week we made a huge pot of chili, garlic bread, corn muffins and cookies. This week we made home made pizzas, breadsticks and apple and blueberry muffins. Alex and his friends drank beer and I made a pot of coffee and had apple cider, because it’s fall. Earlier, when Alex and I were at the grocery store, planning the dinner, he placed the groceries in paper instead of plastic bags. “Paper bags always remind me of the fall.” He said smiling at me. Awwww…October love!
And while I was cleaning the house today, the same house my mom lived in for almost 15 years, mulled spices roasting on the stove, candles lighting every corner, fire blazing, windows open wide whistling autumn wisdom into our hearts, the puppies chasing each other across the floor, falling over their new found paws, I was reminded of those calls I used to receive. “Hey Pete. Do you want to have some of your friends over tonight and we could watch a movie and play a game and maybe I’ll make chili and raw apple muffins.” But I always had better things to do, because of course…there was always so much time left. On my mom’s last birthday, she was upset because she didn’t get a birthday cake. I remember acting irritated and explaining that it was just a cake and that she would have many more birthdays. She didn’t. And we don’t really have all that much time, do we?
It’s in the hours…the minutes…the seconds. And even as I write this, as Alex and our friends Demi and Nneka are rolling in laughter while playing Mario Party on Wii, I’m again reminded of those calls and that these Free Dinner Sundays have somehow turned into a tribute for my mother. Or at least, a reminder to build a home, a nest, where our bed of white, crisp sheets is tightly made, three pillows deep, and candles always burn, and food is bountiful, and pups chase and love laughs on the scent, on the sound on the sighs, of our friends, our family and Alex and I. Together. Home.
And memories are powerful business. They are the foundation for what we want in our life, whether we realize it or not. Tonight, I was mixing the batter for the blueberry muffins and Demi, whose mother recently died of breast cancer, our stories being almost eerily similar, told me that it reminded him of being little when his mother would make him blueberry muffins. So maybe in the batter there is more than just eggs, milk and flour…but also a few Saturday morning a long time ago when Demi was under three feet and his mom was still alive. And I get it. Because I lost the recipe for my mom’s raw apple muffins. But I haven’t forgotten. And I’ll try my new recipe. Because life is about blending the old and the new, and remembering that for every lost opportunity, there is a new memory waiting to happen. And it’s time…
Because we’re on borrowed time as it is!