I Still Want It
“I want to fall in love again. This time, without the fear of falling on my face. I want deep conversations without a fear of trusting too much and to hold without a fear of having to let go.
I want someone I don’t have to watch my back with, because we have each other. Effortless smiles and laughs until our cheeks are sore. I want to cuddle up on cold nights watching movies until those movies are watching us.
I want to make love, real love. The kind where you’d better stretch, put your hair in a high ponytail and have water nearby because nobody will be able to walk to the fridge afterward.”
Surprisingly, this is from a book of poems, I Still Want It, written by a young man; yet, he seems to understand so naturally and so perfectly what resides in an older persons heart. Despite age and time, scars and pain, somehow a spark of hope remains. We still feel the same on the inside, still long for the same things, dream the same dreams
The book lies on my kitchen island. I get lost in it when I sit alone there with a mug of hot coffee. It just feels like such a gift, the written word, whether in the form of a quote, a novel, a poem. Someone captured so eloquently the way I feel. I’m not alone in this.
I look at the book lying there as I ready myself to visit my elderly parents. What will they be like today? I still want it – their love, their approval, even at this late date, but they’ve mostly slipped away now. Are the words they say how they really feel or just bitter residue left over from some other place and time in their 80+ years?
After my visit with them, I’ll have a home cooked meal made by the new man I’ve been seeing. I approach tentatively and with a great deal of caution. I’m a much more reserved, controlled version of myself. It’s as though I’m dispensing the essence of me with an eyedropper instead of pouring generously from a full pitcher as I usually do. I am shell-shocked from previous blows to the heart and despite all the wine and roses, very, very wary. I still want it; I do . . . . but the thought of allowing myself to be vulnerable again is terrifying.
This man spent his Friday evening running to the grocery store after work in the pouring rain to shop for ingredients and then, unearth his old family recipes. A pot (or a cauldron, as he put it) of sauce was bubbling on the stove while he stuffed manicotti and prepped a Sweet Bell Pepper and Onion Salad, and cleaned Mushrooms to sauté with Garlic and Sweet Vermouth. On Saturday evening, I sat and drank wine while he put the finishing touches on dinner, including “Uncle Louie’s” garlic bread with crumbled blue cheese atop, so warm and fragrant. The feast was disarming. So comforting and familiar, it made me smile as it reminded me of many family dinners from years past and also because of the care that was taken in putting it all together.
“I wanted to cook for you,” he said, “because I know you’re always the one cooking for everyone else. Making a meal for you really makes me nervous, but I wanted you to be able to relax and enjoy for a change.” I smile silently and consider whether it would be okay to let my guard down, maybe just a little bit.
We finish off the meal with tiramisu and the rest of the red wine. He knows. We are paisanos of sorts, after all – his family, from Calabria, and mine from a little town in Sicily near Palermo. So far, we seem to speak the same language and it is easy. Conversations are peppered with exclamations of, “Me too!” and “Of course! That’s always the way it was.”
He wraps up all the leftovers from the meal for me. “This way you’ll have dinner during the week when you’re tired and you don’t feel like cooking.” He’s no fool. He knows, on Monday night when I kick off my shoes, open my book of poetry and warm up a plate for myself, each bite I take will have me thinking of the sweet guy who made sauce for me from scratch and stuffed manicotti with a pastry bag at the end of his long workweek. Food can do so many things.