Today I’m choosing to answer the Scintilla prompt on food: Many of our fondest memories are associated with food. Describe a memorable experience that took place while preparing or eating food.
We’d known each other for just four months and were in the middle of figuring out this long distance relationship thing. He had been in Alabama since January but was returning now, the last weekend of February, to North Dakota. We had our three weeks of dating before he left Texas the first time, his thirteen hour detour to see me on his way to Alabama, my trip out there at the first of February, his twenty-five hour visit across Valentine’s Day, and now he was again detouring by 13 hours just to spend roughly forty hours with me.
I am so glad you came to see me, he texted one night after he was supposed to be following lights out. I’ll come visit you anywhere, I replied, because that’s what you do in a long-distance relationship. The silence following my text was deafening. Not Minot, surely not Minot, he finally sent back to me. Don’t be silly, of course Minot as that is where you live. It’d hardly be fair for me to expect you to come to Texas all the time. Even more silence. I was afraid he’d actually lost his phone to the random person in charge of enforcing lights out. Then, eventually, this conversation is too deep, I don’t know, we have a lot to talk about.
He was coming in on a Friday evening. Even though he was loathe to admit it, he was one of those old-fashioned guys who preferred to pay for food. But I didn’t want that, I wanted to treat him, to cook for him, to show him that no matter what we had to talk about, it would be okay. I pulled out all the stops and planned my favorite show-off menu: Caesar Salad, Baked Potatoes, Cheddar Bay Biscuits, and Coconut Shrimp. Sopapilla Cheesecake would be the finale. It was my take on Red Lobster. I ran the menu by him, he approved while failing to mention that he doesn’t like coconut.
His last relationship before me had been a LDR. She had visited him once, a month after they broke up, the weekend before he met me. He was unsure of doing this again, I was determined to prove to him that not everyone would balk at the idea of spending their money and time to visit him. I’m still the only person who visited him in Minot.
He had called and texted me all day as he made the drive from Alabama to Texas. We cheered when he was making better time than expected, cursed the weather and traffic that slowed him down in Houston, and rejoiced when he made it to my apartment slightly earlier than expected. I was still frying the coconut shrimp.
If we’re going to do this, there have to be rules, he said. I was curious, what kind of rules did he want. We have to both want to make this work, he explained, we have to both be willing to travel. I retorted with my earlier promise to come see him no matter where he was. We agreed together that we’d try to keep the visits around four to five weeks apart to keep it from dragging on too long.
He joined me in my small kitchen, peering into the deep fryer and asked me how I knew when they were done. I laughed as he wrapped his arms around me and told him that when they were a deep golden color, they’d be perfect. We fried every batch of the shrimp while laughing, kissing, and cuddling in my kitchen. How we didn’t burn everyone I still don’t know. I couldn’t look away from him, he wouldn’t let go of me.
There’s one more thing, he said after he we had hashed out a rough visit schedule for the next few months. After he had explained that he would never know if he was going to get called in for work or if his leave would get approved. After I told him that none of that mattered. He pulled me close against him, there has to be an end in sight, we can’t do this for forever. I was receptive to that idea as I much preferred having my boyfriend close to me rather than seeing him once every few weeks. He hesitated again, then plowed bravely on to say, On that note, I can’t move back to Texas, the USAF gets to tell me where to move. So, if we’re still together this summer, I want you to move in with me.
We finished the preparations and walked the three feet to my table. Everything was set perfectly. We sat in two chairs pulled close together and we talked. We laughed. We kissed. And finally, we ate. The food was cold but we didn’t care because the company was perfect. We completely forgot to eat dessert. And even though he hates coconut, my coconut shrimp is one of his favorite dishes to this day.