I blame my bleak and very unpromising cooking skills on Thanksgiving, you know.
You’d think I would have gotten better from helping my mom prepare such a yearly feast for me, her and my dad. (Mashed potatoes were my sworn duty. Probably because they’re mashed, requiring heavy amounts of manual mashing child labor. Not to be confused with child mashing labor.)
But since my dad took it upon himself to be all Pennsylvania and go and shoot the turkey himself, this meant a couple of things that my adolescent self wasn’t too impressed with:
- The plucking of feathers.
- The chopping of heads.
- And last but not least, gizzards.
Do you know what a gizzard is? Do you? Because if you don’t, DO NOT LOOK IT UP. You will vomit. And then it will be my fault you threw up on Thanksgiving. And I can’t have those kinds of things on my conscience.
But yes. Watching my mother DECAPITATE A BIRD THAT I ONCE LOVINGLY DREW FROM THE SHAPE OF MY HAND as a kindergartener made me vow never to get into that whole cooking thing.
I mean, I give the lady props. This is a woman who refused to drive if it was drizzling outside because of poor visibility–yet who had no problem taking a cleaver and getting her Lizzie Borden on. (I will have you know I just Googled “famous ax murderer” to come up with that name. Probably better not to have that on my Google history, should I ever get a boyfriend. One day he’s all innocently using my computer to Google game time for the Packers, and–whoops!–up pops my sweet, sweet Google search history, including seemingly-appropriate-at-the-time gems like “famous ax murderer,” “kidnapping in Colombia,” “average price of girl sex trafficking,” “Saddam Hussein,” “pesticide,” “pretty boy names,” “erase Instagram comments you’ve made,” and, of course, “mobile home paneling.”)
Yes, these things I actually just looked up in my Google history, and yes, I SWEAR IT WAS ALL INNOCENT. Well, all except the pesticide. I definitely had malicious intentions with that. Fucking ants.
This Thanksgiving, however, I will not be mashing potatoes or gawking at gizzards–as I haven’t for many years.
Rather, today I’ll be heading to a favorite local restaurant in town, here in Costa Rica, having Thanksgiving dinner with the owner and friends–people that I’ve since adopted as family, whether they know it or not.
And I must say, I am grateful.
Grateful for the cool breeze this morning. Grateful for my business. Grateful for you. Grateful for all of the chance encounters, serendipitous occasions, and people who have accidentally–and not so accidentally–crossed my path. For the way the world always seems to work everything out–whether you’re ready for it or not. For kind eyes. For gentle souls. For compassionate words. And for the moments when you and another person feel undeniably, inexplicably connected. For red wine. White wine. Pink wine. And every glass in between that has, through its bonding powers, brought me closer to another human being, as we shared stories of old flings, new flings, and the time we fell flat on our face. Figuratively and literally. I am grateful for embarrassing moments, as they keep me humble, as I am equally grateful for my victories, as they keep me hungry. I am grateful for experience. For unwanted (but much-needed) lessons. For patience, perseverance, and peppery passion.
But most of all, I am grateful for lust.
For the lust of the game. For the lust of life. For the lust of next year, and the year after.
Because it’s the lust that makes us feel alive.
It’s the lust that fuels our ambitions.
It’s the lust that keeps us moving–even when we aren’t sure we can.
And it’s the lust that’s the one thing that can make you when you have it. And break you when you don’t.
I am grateful for her.
Because it’s the lust that has gotten me to where I am today.
And it’ll be the lust that gets me to where I’m going tomorrow.
And on days I can no longer share with my family that once was–gizzards and all–I know that, at the very least, she’ll be there to pick me up by my rhinestone sandal straps and say, “Let’s go, kid. You’re with me.”
And I’ll simply nod.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, FROM ME, ASH, AND THE MIDDLE FINGER PROJECT.