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Hunting and Gathering

My parents invited me over to their house for dinner. My parents invited me to my home for dinner. I often wonder when it will stop feeling like home.

I drove over the two bridges that connect my hometown to the city I live in now. The first dynamic structure is not fascinating. The engineer who designed it, however, sees it as a piece of art. A masterpiece. The second one. It’s beauty is obvious. People take pictures of it often.

The sun makes the edges of the shipping containers, in the harbor, waiting to be sent out, distinct. They are colorful and stacked. The building blocks of our economy.

Gaffey St has become the street of intersections. More people walk this forgotten paved road than anywhere else in town.

My parking spot is taken. I take my white station wagon, that has become a rare commodity down the street, and walk up in the middle of the black asphalt in rebellion.

The dog I miss serenading , and lying down next to, and just looking into her face, greets me at the bottom of the stairs.   She is excited to see me. The ways that dogs get excited. She does not remember my songs or eyes, but she remembers my smell.

The kitchen is the same as when I moved out a week ago. White. Clean. The difference is three packs of basil that are left on the counter to air, before my dad plants them in his garden. A garden he puts energy into. I wonder how it feels to be child free, but full of lettuce, and tomatoes, and rosemary, and carrots, and basil.

Nobody is home. I sit down in the chair I would write in when I lived there. The book in my purse was for moments like these. My mom’s gray cat contrasted with the white tile table I sat next to. She crept to the edge of the table and sat. Her head close to my hands. I allowed her in my lap, and she inhaled my attention, not allowing my hands to do anything other than scratch the bottom of her chin and the top of her head. Her eyes a gray green, and intimidating. She knew so much more than I did. Her large pupils dilated when my mom came up the stairs from the garage and turned on the light.

At this queue I sat on the stool at the part of the kitchen known as a breakfast bar. The words I have held inside began to spew from my mouth as my mom took the groceries from the reusable bags and put them in their respective positions. There were days worth of anecdotes and conversations and venting that had commenced.


She said this as I was telling her of my beautiful relationship that was blossoming with my therapist. I was in the midst of saying how much I dislike talking about myself as I realized that was what had been happening for the past ten minutes, with no interlude. Sometimes I frustrated myself in this way. I was so good at wondering about other people, but my parents, asking them how they are or how their day is feels stiff. Too formal. They rarely give me the satisfaction of talking about an insecurity or a moment of frustration. And so I jabber.

“What’s wrong?”

“I forgot the heavy whipping cream. You’re gonna have to go to the store for me. I just need a pint. It looks like this.”

I get up, grab my purse.

“Ok I’ll be back in a couple minutes.”

Driving to Vons is still second nature. I barely pay attention to the turns. I trust I will make it there.

I enter the brightly lit store, with colorful aisles filled with our necessities.

Heavy whipping cream and a French press are what I put on the moving belt in the 10 items or fewer line. I decided coffee was necessary for me before I left the house in the morning.

The Vons man scanned the items. I stared at the debit card machine for a moment to long. It gave away my confusion. I swiped, trying to regain my confidence.

“Nothing is on sale anyway.” Vons man comforted.

“Something is on sale?!” I mishear.

“No that first part that you skipped is for your Vons card. But it doesn’t matter because there is nothing for sale.”

“Oh. Can you tell? I don’t go grocery shopping often.”

There was a moment of silence we both pondered this statement.

“Do you hunt?” Vons man finally asked.

“Yes. And gather.” I am proud of my speed.

“Oh wow. You gather too?!”

“Yes you need fruit with your meat.”

“I only hunt.”

“You should try gathering. It’s great. You should join me one night.”

I walk away after this comment and wonder to myself why I would be gathering berries in the dark.

The conversation bolstered my confidence in my quirky being. It stayed with me throughout the night of talking with my parents about Easter drama, a disease called Morgellons, and the dogs my dad and the puppy I used to sing to met on their walk.

After I pronounced the silent “g” in poignant I left and drove back over both of the bridges. The moon was in reach at the top of the arch on both and I felt as though I should just turn my car into fly mode and fly there and back. Then I would get a sense of this life from out there.

I walked into my house and checked on my plant. There was a bloom. I didn’t know this succulent from South Africa had blooms.

I went to bed, excited about my South African blooms and my French press coffee in the morning.

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