Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Finally my weekly exoneration from dorm food! My father took me out for lunch again today-when went out for Indian food last Monday. Today we decided to try Sol Food, restaurant down on 4th Street offering authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine. The green painted interior is a quaint recreation of a busy island kitchen, crowded with plants and eclectic furniture and decor. A large shelf by the cashier displays a collection of beverages from Agua de Coco to Fizzy Lizzy's in eight different flavors. Below the shelf were two troughs of ice filled with chilled beverages, my father selected a Fizzy Lizzy, but I had my heart set on trying the homemade limeade in a jar advertised on the door.
He ordered the Ensalada de Pollo, organic greens, tomato, avocado, baked (free-range) chicken, pickled pink onions, and lemon-garlic dressing. I had the Combinacion Vegetariano, black beans served over rice, organic greens, fresh avocado, tostone, and maduro. And of course, having the sweet tooth that I do, I ordered the Tembleque, a creamy coconut pudding with mango sauce. After ordering we took a seat at one of the heavy wood tables and played catch up, discussing my school, his business, my little brothers, music, religion. I love to hear my father talk, impart wisdom, ponder, and share with me his goals in life.
The food was good and I ate slower than I am accustomed to, savoring the flavors, the moments spent with my father free of conflict, devoid of the complications of the divorce. Turning eighteen at the beginning of this year marked the end of his "legal obligations" towards me and I was afraid that that would end any hope of us having the close relationship that we have always tried to attain but that he always managed to put off, prioritizing work. But sitting there, I realized that my fears were unfounded. Turning eighteen, being in college, allowed him the comfortable freedom of being able to visit me as often as he had always wanted to.
I offered him a taste of the coconut pudding. He took a bite and quickly put down the spoon, dubbing it a "triple shot of sugar." He was right, the syrup was heavy and sugary, and I apologized, remembering his diabetes. The fact that the risk of diabetes runs on both sides of my family and the fact that it really was a bit too sweet should've made me put down my spoon right then as well, but I have a terrible habit of always finishing dessert.
We had a moment in the car, sitting in front of my dorm saying goodbye. It took almost ten minutes to say goodbye. He couldn't stop looking at me and he kept telling me how much he missed me. He wiggled my nose as if I were a child, like a desperate attempt to reclaim the years that he had lost. He told me he loved me and wiped his eyes. And he promised to do his best to take me out to lunch almost every week. No matter how many promises he's broken in the past, no matter how much my mother and stepdad and sister and boyfriend pity me each time I get my hopes up about my father...I believe him. I want and I need to believe him.
I thank God for food and the things it does to people.