As part of my quest to not dissociate I’ve been out of the apartment quite a bit. I dissociate substantially less when I am not at home. I was driving around this cute rural area I don’t know very well when I came across this little cafe at the end of the village. It was one of those places where the locals gather, and everyone talks to each other across the tables.
I found they had a turkey dinner as a special so I ordered it as it sounded like good comfort food. Here’s the thing with a turkey dinner: It’s great if it’s a gourmet meal, and it’s even better if it’s a plain jane turkey dinner. And, yes, I know that statement needs an explanation.
Before my mother married my stepfather we never had a Thanksgiving dinner at home. I’m assuming it was a combination of not being able to afford it, and my mother was likely working on Thanksgiving. Because of this, I always looked forward to the Thanksgiving turkey dinner they served in the school cafeteria the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I loved it all: the gummy mashed potatoes, the thin sliced turkey loaf, the boxed stuffing with an overabundance of parsley, a prefab bread roll, canned peas, and jellied cranberry sauce.
I would sit there and eat that turkey dinner and imagine that the potatoes were the right consistency, the turkey actually had skin and bones, the stuffing was homemade, perhaps with cornbread (yeah!), the vegetables were fresh, the bread was a homemade parker house roll (yes, as a poor kid in West Texas I was familiar with the concept of a parker house roll as an avid reader of cookbooks) , and you could see the berries in the cranberry sauce. I was likely one of few students who happily ate the entire dinner. In my mind I had eaten a Thanksgiving dinner fit for Martha Stewart!
It was a plain jane turkey dinner, and during the time I ate it I was present, calm and grounded.
Today when I eat such a dinner it makes me happy because it reminds me of the optimism I had as a child. Such a turkey dinner also gives me hope that I’ll be optimistic again someday.