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‘Love’ly Dinner

I have a fantasy where everyone I love sits at the same dining room table.

the air smells like sage & aromas of generational recipes and the candlelight is dimming because the wicks were lit so long ago. there is laughter that comes from the bottom of the stomach, the kind that reminds you that joy exists; there are absentminded smiles. my shoulders do not naturally curl inward like a late november leaf. there’s no need to fix my makeup and everyone left their masks at home. no one is missing; every seat is filled. someone passes a plate to the person next to them. when a glass slips from a hand and shatters on the hardwood, it is met with one single apology and half a dozen voices saying hey, don't worry about it, everything is just fine.

we never learned what it means to fight or how it feels to hang up without saying goodbye. instead, someone asks me if I've tried any new recipes lately. they ask me to recommend a book for them. they ask if I've had enough to eat. our ears stay open and our minds clear. there is no jealousy at this table, no isolation or regret. we pass our pain around the table in exchange for acceptance.

for a brief moment, I catch the melted shapes of all our reflections in the window. I stare until we are no longer separate entities, until we are one watercolor blur, until there is nothing I would change.

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