From here, I can see everything.
A lidless container of cutlery hovers near the edge of the table, the surface of which is peppered by twist-off beer caps, like so many discarded coins. There is a bag of hardened bread looming on the eastern chair, still untouched. The cord of my laptop threads across the tabletop, vaulting over smears of food, only to cross a dirty rag before sliding over the edge of the table and into the wall behind me. A pair of forks, listless and encrusted in frosting, cross to form an "x" on the rag, as if to mark some salvation yet hidden by the wooden surface.
The kitchen has obviously taken the worst of it. Even now, its unlit interior still hangs heavy with the memory of a dozen bodies crowding over every inch of the imitation marble tiles. Casualties of every shape and size cover the island - empty water bottles, gravy-stained plates, neglected vegan dishes, and cold coffee mugs - all pile over each other, forming a queue to the maw of the trashcan, waiting patiently below.
There is no hope for the sink. A large cooking pot, rewashed and used half a dozen times for as many dishes, stands abandoned in the left sink. Smaller dishes float lifelessly on the tepid water within. Silverware is strewn across the counter top, signifying a trail of dead. Twin bottles of Apothic Red stand guard over a box of cookies destined to go stale. The tool to open them is nowhere in sight.
People no longer crowd the room. Conversation no longer lilts down the hall. The fire has not been stoked for a day, the furniture refusing to return to its original place. Only the hum of the heater speaks at all, and it too falls silent after its piece.
In the corner of the room, I sit at the dirty table. The aftermath is no longer my concern. I've become numb to it. The only worry that pulls at my mind is that of the task of cleaning it up. I can live with disorder, but only for so long.
My back arches in weariness. I resign myself to these words. For now, the mess will have to wait a little longer.
* * *
As you can probably guess, this year's Thanksgiving was a grand success. Yes, I'm putting off the cleaning of the event for now. Last year, there was more food, more people, and longer hours of fellowship. Despite this, I enjoyed this year's festivities much more - except the cleaning part. Last year I rose with the dawn following the holiday and set to work on the kitchen right away. This year, not so much.
Both years have been my first and second up here in Seattle. Last November found me barely five months into my transition here, one that had already been marred by moving four times. Even that could not pull down my spirits, as the day was one of joy. For a bunch of college kids, the dishes and planning had been impressive. I remember standing before the table of food (minutes before it was to be destroyed) as we all looked on, wondering how we had accomplished such a big thing. After the meal, we went around the table to mention what we were thankful about. For some reason, as least two people said they were thankful for my being there. I still don't know if these words were uttered in jest or sincerity, but either way I was flattered by them.
This year was more of the same, but better. Instead of making 40 deviled eggs like I did last year, I upped my game and made 60 plus this year. Don't be impressed; it's literally the only thing I know how to make. Last year, they were consumed before half the guests even arrived. This year, a plate yet lingers in the fridge. I'd call that a success.
While there wasn't as much food or company as there was last year, there was a feeling of overall contentment, at least on my part. A year had seen four engagements in our group of friends: at this time last year, one couple had just started dating, another couple had been dating for years, one couple barely knew each other, and another couple hadn't even met. Many things can change in a year. Two of our friends have since left Seattle and one more will in less than a month. Many things.
None of these things crossed my mind during the day's celebration, and they barely register on the outskirts of my thoughts now. It may be a cliche, but my mind doesn't surrender to melancholy during the holidays. Sure, financial concerns are always there. I'm the worst gift-giver ever. But those things barely matter when pitted against the knowledge that the people closest to you are there for the time being. They come and go, they get married and break up. For that day at least, we were all together.
I couldn't have imagined things going so well following my move to Seattle. I've said it again and again, but the way in which things fell neatly into place amaze me. Despite having only been here for less than six months, last year brought me enough good fortune to feel at home and loved on this holiday. This year the feeling only multiplied. The move from Texas to the northwest had not changed anything; there were friends in each place.
Other than the fact that the Cowboys won, this year could not have gone any better. Yeah, there's still tons of cleaning to do, but I'd rather clean up after a dozen people than not clean up after having no company. I think. Ask me when I'm done.
Thanksgiving is the first in a trifecta of holidays this season. My start to this season has been wonderful. I can only hope that Christmas and New Year's are equally as inviting. It is my further hope that yours is just as grand. I'm thankful for and to my friends for making it such an amazing time.
Stay alive until Christmas. We'll talk then.
PS - I'll start cleaning up if you do. Ask me later how my progress is going.