From my online writing group's prompt for January 1. LOBSTER: Describe in vivid detail one dish or hors d’ouevre you ate last night.
It was no trouble at all. I whipped it up at the last minute. Truly. We’d planned on popping the L’ambrusco alongside a homemade dinner of steak, sweet potato, and coconut-sauced kale, greeting the New Year sweetly in our pajamas, or on taking in the bright lights of our small town and toasting among strangers at the bar with $9 glasses of Californian champagne, but we both worked until no one wanted to cook or stroll. Yet the opening of something long bottled up seemed crucial. It was 11:59 and then the year was no more. It is 12:01 and we have popped nothing, and the TV is on, and I just finished editing another person’s words, always another’s, never my own. It is 12:01 of a new day of a new year and nothing has changed, and in another way nothing is the same, and that’s when I first get a whiff, citrus bright. We go to bed and I can hear the lull creeping into his breathing. Moments later, the whiff is a taste in my mouth, crisply touching my tongue, roof of mouth, even the backs of my teeth. It’s creamy now, doughy, rising, then it’s down my throat, a million fluttering bubbles, and then it’s just everywhere.*
Its essence is the fifth drink of the night, a dark downtown bar crammed shoulder to shoulder, the lips of my closest friends on my cheeks. It is sequins and glitter and red lipstick and the joy and bother of four-inch heels. It’s singing and swaying down a street and into the subway, the night young, the whole year like a gift yet to be unwrapped. It’s those beloved faces, missing, and the spooky way I’m the only one walking around past midnight, that there are too many Asians here and not enough African Americans. It’s the need for enough to change that this suburban life feels like a choice rather than a gun to my head that everyone, including myself, knows I should be happy about—the imperative to fill the imaginary stroller. It’s the way that all day I hear the trains go past, and I stay in the same place with this nameless longing. It’s realizing, finally and with finality, that there is only one way to be happy: make yourself. It’s honoring the whole complexity, but lingering more on the sweetness than the acidity or bitterness. It’s understanding that all wine is somewhere between juice and vinegar.
I cry and he wakes. Happy New Year, he says. I miss New York, I say. He says, I know, but. We both know we love each other, so we don’t say that part, though perhaps we should have. Might have left the right flavor on the palate.
* Here ends what I actually posted (we have a word limit and I was already over it). But here is the rest.