My son Matt came by today, and I didn’t make shrimp.
This is a momentous achievement for me, in many ways. My boy came to my house and I did not defrost the package of jumbo shrimp. I didn’t saute it with garlic and onions and toss it onto pasta.
I am so….proud.
You see, years ago, when this boy was about ten years old, I discovered that his favorite food is shrimp. The two of us found ourselves bonding over many a pan of hot oil and garlic as one of us peeled and one of us chopped. We shared stories about our days, we talked music and politics and love. We found our own language of seafood recipes and life. I keep a pound of shrimp in my freezer at all times, with him in mind.
Yesterday he sent me a text, saying that he was heading from Western Mass to Boston to see his sister on his day off, and that he would stop here at our house first. I was happy to hear that, of course, because I am always happy to see him. I was especially delighted because I am currently enduring three days of enforced couch time as I try to shake a nasty and lingering virus. I am wearing sweatpants and a sports bra. I have a pillow at my back and a dog on my lap. I am bored almost senseless.
So Matt’s impending arrival had me thinking “shrimp” right away. Until I realized that I was forbidden by both husband and doctor from cooking and fussing. More significantly, I figured that if he had a night out in Boston ahead of him, he probably wouldn’t stay long enough to eat. So I resisted my impulses, made more tea and snuggled back down with a marathon of “Houston Animal Cops” on TV.
The afternoon went by in a blur of naps, tissues and dog hair, but no visiting son. I sent him a text, and found (not at all to my surprise) that he was running late and would stop by on his way home today instead.
This morning I woke up, still feeling sick and fighting vertigo. My first thought was “yuck”, but my second was “shrimp!” I thought that if Matt was planning to stop on his way back from Boston, he’d be likely to come later in the day, and more likely to stay for a meal.
But I stopped myself before I could take out the shrimp for defrosting. I told myself that I was still sick. I told myself that just because one of the kids dropped by, I didn’t have to jump into Momma mode and whip up a feast. I fought back my natural instincts and stayed on the couch.
I was making myself a grilled cheese when the son in question pulled into the driveway.
He was tired, and fighting allergies after spending a night with his sister’s affectionate cat. He gave me a hug, then sat to talk for a few minutes. He told me that he was excited because his younger brother is planning to spend most of his winter break, not here at my house, but at the apartment that Matt shares with three friends. The fact that there is barely enough room for all of them to stand side by side in that apartment was not a part of the discussion. Rather, he talked about plans to move in a futon, to rearrange the furniture and to hang a blanket for privacy. We shared a good laugh remembering how the two boys used to love building blanket forts. He stayed long enough to gather some laundry, a bulb of garlic and a couple of pounds of ground beef. Then he was gone.
When he left, I was…..not sad, exactly…just….melancholy, I guess. I miss him. I miss making him shrimp. I miss the sound of both boys in the living room, draping blankets over chairs and putting down pillows to make their forts.
After he left, I settled back on the couch with a romance novel in one hand and the clicker in the other. I kissed Tucker’s head, and decided that Paul and I would have a nice shrimp dinner tonight.