Monday, November 16, 2009

Grateful for the Cobwebs

Doing something you don't want to do can sometimes be a good thing--even if you are pushed into doing it. It can help you grow beyond your comfort level and, if you're fortunate, it can put more in perspective than you might have imagined.

Take, for example, entertaining friends at home. For most people, it probably isn't an issue, but it is for me. As soon as you step into the foyer of my townhouse, I worry you'll notice the woodwork surrounding the front and garage doors has been dog chewed up to the doorknobs. Have I done anything about that? No. Not yet. And if you look across the foyer into the living room, you'll see the parquet floor is as scratched and stained as a butcher block. Have I done anything about that? No. Not yet.

Then, please don't look up at the two-story ceiling, because the cobwebs are probably two decades old. And yes, I did at least try to do something about that. I repeatedly slung a wet washcloth up there to knock them down. That smeared them all over the place. Have I done anything about that? No. Not yet.

I tell myself the reason these things are unchanged is because my husband and I eventually plan to move. But I know it's also because I'm frugal and a procrastinator--which is why the fabric on the ceiling of our 13-year-old Jeep hangs nearer and nearer to our heads.

In my dreams, our Someday House will already have perfect door surrounds, ceilings, and floors. Our Someday Car will be perfect, too. But as for my dreams of our Someday House, I know that's all it is, a dream. Because the house my husband and I will ultimately choose will probably be a fixer upper, considering he's as frugal as me.

Despite the blemished townhouse, I did invite three girlfriends over recently. Well, sort of. My initial idea was for one girlfriend to come over for frozen organic pizza. She suggested I cook pasta instead. She even gave me the recipe and asked if I wanted to invite so and so, too. "Sure," I heard myself say.

Then, two weeks before the dinner--or was it one week--she sent me an email explaining she'd also invited another friend. Could I send her directions? "Sure," I emailed back.

The problem was, I'm not and never have been comfortable cooking things from scratch--thus the initial frozen organic pizza concept. The last time I cooked for friends was probably four or more years ago, and that was just a breakfast. This time, I knew I could order take out, even cater the darn thing, but for some reason I eventually came around to the decision that I wanted to cook.

Maybe cooking is like putting on makeup. I enjoy doing it sometimes, for certain occasions. It's the creative part of me trying to be expressed by doing something special. And what could be more special to give someone than a delicious home-cooked meal?

The emphasis, of course, is on delicious. I have a friend named Alice who loves to cook, and everything she makes is delicious, so going to her house is always fun. And herein lies another problem. A lot of what I cook is not so great or, at best, bland. I remember the time I made Gazpacho. Cold soup. How difficult could that be? The dish was so oily it made me nauseous.

Nevertheless, in the middle of my recent dinner party I found myself having a good time. Even my linguini and broccoli tossed in garlic and oil was good--that is, after we all added grated cheese and more salt and pepper. And then, one of my girlfriends mentioned that a homeless family--friends of hers, a couple who had recently lost their jobs and their house, and had a teenage son--was now living with her family in her home.

Whether or not there were cobwebs on my ceiling didn't seem to matter as much anymore. At least I had a ceiling for the cobwebs to cling to.

QUESTION: What event or events in your life surprised you with a shift in your perspective?

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