Monday, April 21, 2014

"There are moments in every mans life, when he glimpses the eternal."

The rush of anger when I saw it surprised me.

It had been my favorite place.  The last time I was there was more than four years ago. I thought the memory of that night was long buried, but there it was. Sudden. Unexpected. Painful.

Sometimes it's one bite too much.  Sometimes it's something not chewed well enough.  Sometimes there's no reason at all. It just happens--the discomfort that inevitably becomes a re-visitation of everything I just ate. An unpleasant side effect of gastric bypass surgery.

It happened that night.  Soy glazed salmon.  Chinese broccoli.  Grilled bok choy with sesame oil. Then the uncomfortable foaming at the back of my throat, the pressure beneath my sternum. I left the table and went out to the car.  It seemed more discreet that way. I kept plastic bags in the seat pocket for just these occasions.

"Going there is kind of a waste of money," he said as we drove home.  "You threw up ten dollars worth of food."

Those words made me burn with a shame I can't quite explain. Yet another way I was a disappointment added to the growing pile. Another thing I enjoyed sullied by my inability to do it right.

We never went back there again.

Eventually we moved away.  I forgot about it, mostly.  I no longer thought of the words, but something inside always made me box up most of my restaurant dinners after that, even if I was still hungry.

Now, four years later, a picture.  It's right there as I scroll through my newsfeed.  The same restaurant, the same family--just a different face where mine had once been. And all the shame of that night came rushing back.  Shame and anger--anger I should have felt four years ago.

Cheeks flushed, I glance up from the screen with its picture of the memory with a new face in my spot.

She's looking at me from across the room, smiling.  Her brown eyes filled with so much love.  My anger dissipates as suddenly as it came.

I am no one's disappointment anymore.