Second post today, stuck at home and thinking...
Something came to me the other day.
When I was a kid, an only child, my parents and I went out to eat a *lot.* When my mom took me out, it was often McDonald's or an ice cream shop or some kind of buffet. When my Dad took me out, it was a diner or some other 'home cooking' kind of place, or the back room of a bar that served steaks and shrimp in the evenings. And when we all went out together, we usually went to fancy places. I was allowed to pick anything I wanted from the menu and usually included an appetizer and desserts as well as a soda. This is how I grew up, in a middle class family where we didn't have a second car, but we went out to eat several times a week.
As an adult, my restaurant visits were rare except for fast food. Since swearing off fast food a couple years ago, I've found myself more and more in sit-down restaurants with my daughter, not every week, but often. Last week when we were out, I sat there eating my food and suddenly thought, "there is nothing we are eating that I couldn't make at home. Why am I here?" And I actually had a bit of an epiphany.
Why do I like to go out to eat? Like many of my habits, it's not about the food. I can make better food at home most of the time, since we aren't eating anywhere gourmet. And I *like* to cook. I enjoy chopping and prepping and seasoning a dish to perfection. I like making a recipe healthier by adding veggies or cutting fat and carbs. It's fun. But I *want* to go out to eat. I would do it every day if I could. Why?
Suddenly it hit me as I sat in the restaurant with my daughter. The actual *environment* of a restaurant is very comforting to me. Sitting in a booth, looking at menus, listening to the chatter around me, sipping ice water while we wait for our food, even asking for a box at the end of the meal... all of it is like taking a little trip back in time, sitting in that familiar place with my parents. So many hours upon hours of my childhood were spent here. It IS like going home for me, and since there is no home nor parents for me to actually go home to, it is about as close as I can get to spending a few hours 'back there.' Really. As always, it's not about the food.
Ten years ago I planted a mimosa tree in my yard. When it died shortly afterward, I pulled it up and planted another one. When vandals yanked it up and broke it in two, I planted another one. Finally, the third one took, and now I have a large mimosa tree in my yard that grows fuzzy pink blossoms every summer. Whenever I look out my window and see it, I smile. I remember the mimosa tree outside my window as a child. This tree I planted is probably the one thing in and around my home that brings me the most happiness... just by being there.
What are the other things that remind me of my parents, my childhood? What things *aside from* butter pecan ice cream, hot dogs, and Reuben sandwiches... what nonfood things... give me that going-home feeling of comfort?
daisies in a vase
I made my list. I looked it over. And now I see real, *healthy* ways I can channel my childhood and my parents into my life to give me comfort. It doesn't have to be their favorite foods or going out to eat or smoking or drinking or gambling at the racetrack or being a religious zealot. I can bring the happy moments of my childhood into my life, into my child's life, in other, truer ways, just like planting that tree. And I am going to spend more time on doing that, and less trying to find it in restaurants.
Food on the Brain
7 hours ago