My hips burned, the veins in my head throbbed, and my knees cracked as I rose from my bed on Friday morning. When I placed my foot in the floor, I realized sleeping didn’t relieve the ache in between my toes or the balls of my feet either. But, none of this matter, it was time to get ready for work. I thought, I need to get through work to meet my friends to goto our first dinner club event; a monthly home cooked meal at each other’s homes.
I powered through a frustrating nine hours at work that was peppered with a WGAE union meeting, three and a half hours of shows despite computer problems, and learning new software. When 6:40 rolled around, my friends and I hopped into my Fiat and battled rush hour Lincoln Tunnel traffic to Union City, New Jersey.
My friend Sixto opened the door to his apartment and we were greeted by his cat. He warned Cara and Alicia that the cat could turn on a dime and go from sweet to vicious. But, they followed her into the spare bedroom used as an office anyway. I was sitting near Sixto while he cooked when we heard a commotion. Apparently, the cat attacked them and Alicia was shut in the room with the terror. Luckily, she escaped unharmed.
Sixto’s girlfriend Stephanie came home followed closely by another friend, Mike. Our gathering was compete. As wine flowed, a delicious meal with placed before us. We ate, told stories of our youth and did impersonations. We also talked about the plans for our future and exchanged advice on saving money, finding a home and finding love. We just enjoyed each other’s company.
When the meal was over and Mike went home, the rest of us walked up to the rooftop deck and pool that overlooked Manhattan; the city that brought someone from the Dominican Republic, Spain, a Jewish girl from Virginia and a native of New Jersey and New York together.
I could see Weehawken, where I first moved when I came back from Boston. Sixto pointed out his first solo apartment in West New York. We could see our past and our present at the very same time.
The moment struck me. I wondered what happened to that hopeful girl who started her life over despite obstacles. I wondered whether the woman I’d became would take the same risks. I questioned if I’d had surrendered to life rather than embracing it because I let my chronic illness cripple me. These thought raced into my mind because it had been months since I spent a Friday night out; when I didn’t go straight home from work to eat alone in front of the television.
I realized that the gathering with my friends was more than a meal. It was like food to my soul; it rejuvenated me in a way I didn’t know I even needed. It made me feel connected to other people; it made me want to explore and live again.