Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Perfect Metaphor Meal

A couple nights ago Lynette and I had our annual year-end just-the-two-of-us really-nice meal to exchange our Christmas gifts and enjoy good food and good conversation.

The meal ended up being a metaphor for the year.

Two or three years ago, I ate at the Crazy Buffet, which is horribly named, but it had amazing food. The best Asian cuisine I'd ever had, tons of it, all high-quality and fresh. It was expensive and oh-so worth it. I'd been meaning to take Lynette there ever since and this was it.

Maybe the place has changed hands. I should have figured it out when the hostess didn't notice us standing there and just stayed absorbed in her magazine. Everything looked older, not just two or three years older but decades older. The grand piano was smudged and dusty... even the coy fish looked bored.

Still, we stayed. The food was incredibly plentiful. There was some appetizing stuff thrown in between the whole boiled octopus, eel, sea spiders, and fish eggs (no wonder they lost the war). There was Alaskan King Crab, which is my favorite food next to Dungeness Crab. All my favorite Asian items...

...but it wasn't very good. The crab had been frozen too long, the salad was tired, the sushi was pretty good, and the old ambiance of Japanese music was replaced with '80's and '90's songs.

This is a picture of 2007. I had finally gone freelance and loved it, despite the difficulty of getting paid by my clients. I had been anticipating it for years, but found my own character lacking in that my discipline wasn't the strongest. I did get to spend a ton of my time with my wife and kids, which all by itself makes 2007 a really good year. But the luster I'd been hoping for wasn't there in much else. Through Seattle visits, I was apart from Lynette and the kids a total of 2 months out of 12. Won't do it that way every again.

We began and ended the year with heavily family losses. Last night at 12:15 I told Charli that we could see the countdown all over again at 3:00. She looked confused so I told her that it was still 2007 for grandma and grandpa, bringing myself up short when I realized that it would always be 2007 for grandma.

When my Grandpa Ray passed away, the grief started my decade long struggle with anger-at-the-world, but I didn't have the maturity to recognize that grief had kicked it off. Now I'm learning what a life changing thing grief is. I'm seeing the changes in me wrought by grief. I wondered when I would get back to normal, and now know that while I will climb out of the valley of the shadow of death, my old normal is gone, and it will be to a new normal, whatever it will be. I guess I'll find that out in the new year. A promise, though. My blog will not be maudlin after this post.

There was a saving grace to our Crazy Buffet dinner, though. Lynette was with me. That makes any dinner bearable, and any year a winner. She is my metaphor for hope.

Oh, yeah: Happy New Year, everyone.