Tomatoes, bonfires, miscellaneous meanderings

I finally harvested a big huge tomato from my two tomato plants. My mom tells me I’ve got some kind of variety called “hamburger tomato.” She wasn’t sure what she’d given me until we plucked this sucker off the vine.

After removing this baby from the vine, I half-jokingly lifted into the air like a Catholic priest with the Host and exclaimed thanks be to God. It smelled of the vine. How does one define that smell but as “tomato”? It is currently the only tomato I got off the plant since we planted them too late so I spent the night contemplating just how I would eat this tomato. My mom suggested BLTs, but I have no bacon (I rarely keep it around because it’s so fattening… love the stuff, but I try to stay away from it).

I contemplated buying some bacon just to make a sandwich of this blessed delight. Instead, I ended up breaking down tonight at dinner when I cooked hamburgers left over from my party yesterday. I cut the heel of the tomato and ate it at once… delightful! Even better than I imagined. At last, the taste I’ve been longing for from a tomato, which I never get from store tomatoes. I put a thick slice of the tomato on my hamburger along with onion, pickles, and stadium mustard. Let me just say that this was the best damn hamburger I’ve had in a long, long time and it was all thanks to that ripe, juicy tomato. Michael laughed at my over-exuberant delight; he’s not a huge fan of tomatoes–SACRILEGE! But he thought, belatedly, that he should have taken a picture of me with my mouth around the burger, the tomato juice dripping onto my fingers, so that I could post it here.

Well, now the tomato has been cut, so I must finish it off ASAP. I will chop parts of it up to put on my salad for lunch tomorrow. I might just pack the rest of it to eat with my lunch. Because I waited months for a tomato to ripen on that plant, and it may be the only one I get this year, I will appreciate every inch of its flesh. Next year, I resolve to plant more tomato plants and early. I want to be rolling in tomatoes. Now that I’ve tasted the fruit, I’m hooked.

Last night, I had a fall party with friends. I barbecued some burgers and asked my friends to bring desserts, sides, and beverages. It worked out very nice. I lit a fire in my fire pit and we sat around catching up and relaxing. A different crowd than in past years. All of my friends who just had babies bowed out. A lot of the people I’d invited from my cycling club showed up, outnumbering the usual crowd of friends. A few long time friends–Diane, Buddha, Penitz, Carrie, Matt–were there. My parents, too. It was a nice time. Yeah, I seemed to have missed the crowd that used to be regular, but I guess good things don’t last forever. It’s a good thing that I’m always picking up new friends.

It’s time for me to stop mourning the lost magic of a group of people who have moved onto other phases of their lives. It’s a weird period of my life to be in. I’m caught in some hyperspace between young and experienced, single and married, carefree and responsible. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll be in my stasis for awhile. It’s hard sometimes to watch everyone else zipping by you at warp speed while you’re basically standing still. Sometimes I get a little jealous. Overall, I understand why people can’t be there like they used to be. I don’t dwell on it, but I do become melancholy.

There was a time when a certain group of us got together every minor holiday–Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, someone’s birthday, any time we had a day off work. We’d sit around and drink, play board games or cards, watch stupid movies like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. I lived for those days. And not for the drinking. It was the laughter and the fun. We knew each other well then.

When I look back at it, it seems as if the bond started to crumble when Mike died.

No, the whole world did not revolve around Mike. This particular group of friends and I–the original core–were established long before Mike. Back then, most of us were all single, except one couple who I never knew as anything other than a couple. Through the years, people kept getting dragged into our group. Naturally, those we dated came and went. The core was always there.

I’m not even sure how some of the later people got added to that group. When I think back on it, some of the other people came in with Mike and others came in through my cousin Gary; or maybe it was my cousin Gary who brought all these other people, including Mike. Regardless, for awhile, it seemed as though a certain number of us spent a lot of time together. We used to play co-ed soccer together and then we’d go out for drinks afterwards. Mike died the next morning after one of these evenings.

It must have been hard for some people who had seen him the night before to find out the next day that he’d died. I don’t know how deeply this event affected each of them individually–we rarely talk about it and I don’t dare bring it up. Everyone needs to deal with their pain in their own way and I wouldn’t force it out of them. I forget sometimes, in my own grief, how it must have been for them.

Maybe it started to unravel when I moved away to Colorado and came back. Upon my return, I tried to slip back into the life I’d left only to realize my friends had moved beyond me for the most part. I’ve since learned that you can never go home again once you leave… you can come back physically, but “home” is a moment locked in time. I had a home in childhood, then at Hiram, and then with Mike. I struggled to find home in Colorado. I’ve been trying to make a home since I’ve returned. I’ve got half a home, but it’s still not completely there. I’m not sure what’s missing.

Regardless of the catalyst to the unraveling of my once core group of friends, it’s not what it was anymore. At least, it’s not what it is was with me. I think some of them now get together on their own because their lives have more commonality than mine. And maybe on some level, some of my old friends still don’t know how to treat me. I wonder if I’m a sore reminder of tragedy as sometimes they are a painful reminder to me of what I had and lost. Maybe I make too much out of it–maybe everyone’s just too busy right now. Part of it could be my fault, too. It’s not like I’m trying very hard to reach out. I guess I just figure that I don’t want to force myself on anyone.

I have these parties to try to bring everyone together again–both the old friends and the new I’ve made in the year. I don’t expect everyone that I invite to show up. I’ve got plenty of people who do come that make it festive.

It’s weird, but as a host, I always spend the day following one of my parties in a slight state of depression. Instead of praising those who did show up, I lament the absence of those who didn’t. I obsess over the details of the night, worrying that I wasn’t good enough host. Should I have reached out more to one person? Did I spend enough time talking to another? My desire to please everyone mixes with my low self-esteem and I give myself crap about all the things I could have done, should have done, would have done, didn’t do. One would wonder why I’d throw a party if it makes me so nutty. Believe it or not, I have fun hosting.

I think I find home in that single moment when I throw a party and get enough people together. Sitting around the fire in my yard, looking at the light removing shadows over the faces of my friends, I find peace. Maybe we’re all on our separate voyages through life and our ships don’t pass each other often anymore. But that moment when we all dock at the same port, share some food and brew, we reconnect with each other. I get so caught up in the warmth of those moments that I never want them to end. A little piece of my heart is tugged as people take back to their helms and return to sea.

I remind myself of my brother. When he was a kid, my brother would never want to stop playing a game. He would throw a fit, even if you’d been playing something for hours, and I always dreaded the moment when I had to tell him I was done playing. I think I’m sometimes like that– the last to leave a party or gathering because I don’t want that comfortable feeling of home to disappear. I find home in people; others find home in solitude.

Anyway, it was a good weekend overall. Now I just feel deflated. Another big event has come to pass. Warm days are beginning to give way to chillier nights as the trees start to turn gold, red, and orange. Michael and I took the tandem out this afternoon and made another rest stop at Szalay’s–perhaps the last one of the year–and had the required lemonade and corn-on-the-cob dipped in butter. The clouds of the morning evaporated into a beautiful evening. We took our time and ventured up a road out of the valley we’d never tried–Northampton. It wasn’t nearly as hard as we thought it would be. After the initial difficult part (which didn’t last too long), it was rolling with little traffic and tree-lined scenery. I don’t know why the club never uses this road on Thursday nights. We’ve taken Steel’s Corners, which is too trafficky and not very scenic or interesting.

Church was inspiring this morning. I’m not sure what it was, but I was definitely “feeling the spirit.” The choir sang a tune called There’s Honey in the Rock that once again gave me goosebumps. Someone leaving our congregation to move to Boston for the love of his life–whom he met through the larger UU congregation–lit the chalice and gave a heartfelt speech about how the church shaped him into a better person. It was very touching and I’d only seen this guy in passing. It made me think about my own purpose for joining the church and I wondered if in a few years I’d feel the same sort of elation (which I’ve already felt on some level when I joined). I felt like I wanted to hug the entire congregation. I’m getting damn sappy in my middle years.

2 thoughts on “Tomatoes, bonfires, miscellaneous meanderings

  1. Heidi,Actually, it was called a beefeater or beefsteak tomato…they are very large, juicy, good for eating fresh, and on hamburgers/sandwiches, etc.Mom

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