The moment when you look around the room and realize that everyone’s lips are moving and decibels are being emitted but nothing of import is being said—no one is being moved forward, backward, or in any direction or shape as a result. It seems everyone is just pretending to enjoy themselves and you just wonder—what’s the point? So you clear the plates and pretend to be intent on washing the dishes.
Your mother spends the entire meal talking about the gravy, how pleased she is with how well it turned out, how it is just the right texture and how easy the recipe was to follow. When you say “Mom, I’m lost” and she replies, “what do you think about the gravy?” And so she continues, thinking that the solution is as simple as that recipe, believing that life has a set of directions, which if followed will lead you to perfection. Isn’t that what life is—a set of steps, a series of milestones, boxes, which if checked off will result in happiness, fulfillment, completeness? Your father comes home and she fusses to get everything ready and she goes into a long speech about her gravy success, the sifted flour she used, how well the gravy pours, and how the leftovers will be great on meatloaf. And I am left thinking: there has to be more.