Last night was my mother’s birthday. And, like everything else my family does, it was messy.
My family decided to drive down and have dinner in Newberg because I don’t have a car, which makes going north difficult. This would be an excellent idea, except that I let my dad choose the restaurant based only on reviews–and not the actual setting of the restaurant. And I the only Mexican restaurant in Newberg that I can visualize is the bakery, so I didn’t realize which restaurant he was talking about until I was standing in front of it.
My family is great at eating in hole-in-the-wall type-places, but only when we’re prepared to do so.
I frantically called my dad. No answer. I called my mom reluctantly. She picked up, fuzzy with road noise and Bluetooth. I managed, talking in frustrated circles, to explain the situation, trying to get them to trust me when I suggested something contrary to Yelp. I finally managed. But–messy.
I beat them to the restaurant, got a booth for six, and sat in the corner by myself. The group in the neighboring booth laughed and shouted. I was silent.
A family came in, five people fronted by a little boy. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw my brother, but it was another dark-haired kid. Another group came in. Nobody. The waitress brought me chips and nearly spilled the salsa. I smiled and tried to fix the spot on my gift for my mother where the tape was falling off.
My mom is a really hard person to give gifts. She says she doesn’t want anything, every year, but we know she does want something, some image of our love. What it is that we give her–well, that depends on the year. Last year, I gave her my words. This year I gave her someone else’s. Messy.
They arrived in a flurry of sound, competing even with the group behind me. Deciding who was going to sit where took several minutes–messy–and then my siblings decided, once settled, that they needed to go to the bathroom, so the whole order was destroyed–messy.
And I was laughing.