(I wrote this last year. Since I can't import the entries from my old blog, I'm creating new ones in this one. And I'm suspecting that there are some people out there that have never read it. And my Dad is about to embark on another trip abroad.
Last week my sister called me. She invited us to her house for a family Sunday dinner and asked me to bring over my “world famous” rosemary chicken, though I would have to argue that her opinion of what “world famous” means is somewhat skewed by her taste buds. KFC is world famous. My rosemary chicken? It might be more like “family famous.” Or “sister famous.” Every person in my family seems to have a favorite dish of mine, which means that they can pretty much talk me into making them anything with a little flattery. My other sister professes her love for my banana bread and my nephew has a soft spot for my chocolate chip cookies. During more alcohol-consuming gatherings, my cousin Linda never fails to bring up a fried rice dish that I made once upon a time. It’s almost become an urban myth, especially since I can’t remember anything about the dish except the rice. And my Mom talks about the fried tofu and tomato salad I make whenever she and my Dad stay over my house.
Speaking of my parents, the reason for the Sunday dinner was to wish my Dad a safe trip. He went on vacation last week—without my Mom. Again. Dad decided that he wanted a break from the cold weather; Mom decided that she wanted a break from him. So for two months, Dad will be in the Philippines while Mom is…well, I don’t know where Mom will be. I know that she wants to be alone in the apartment she shares with my Dad, but she has some health issues making it nearly impossible. I can’t believe that I’m actually writing this, but if she wasn’t so darn impulsive and irresponsible, the idea of her being home alone would not keep me up at night. Oh, how the tables have turned.
Mom is rebellious when Dad is not around, and one of the ways she likes to “live it up” is to eat a Hot Pocket in front of the television. My 70 year old mother channels her inner Spicoli. Unfortunately, her digestive system does not recognize a Hot Pocket as a genuine food item, so Mom winds up sick. And it’s not just a bad stomach ache. Her symptoms include vertigo, heart palpitations, and an unquenchable dry cough. Last year, again while Dad was away and Mom was left home alone, she had a series of mini strokes—brought on by poor diet, no doubt.
My two sisters and I dread the drive to our parents’ apartment. After selling our childhood home, they moved to a “55 and over community” in central New Jersey. And while New Jersey is right next door to New York, it may as well be another country. Getting across the bridges or tunnels into New Jersey is what I imagine a potato line was like in the eastern European countries after World War II: slow-moving, soul-draining, and utterly unavoidable. When I was in college I had the good fortune to travel to Berlin shortly after the Wall came down. My traveling companions and I walked around the eastern part of the city one sunny afternoon. While there were no potato lines to be found, its unremarkable and colorless architecture are what I think of when I find myself stuck on the George Washington Bridge. The immobile vein of cars becomes an imaginary potato line and my mood turns cold and heavy as grey concrete.
This has been on my mind for the last week. I am consumed by Hot Pockets and potato lines, hoping that Mother Spicoli will come to her senses.