I am not alone in this.
I realized the other day.
Thoughts of what it means to be alone.
What it means to be happy.
A seemingly spontaneous conversation with one of my teens brought this back.
The memory splashing so fresh as we stood in the kitchen.
The same kitchen I stood in when I was always the one to call.
I could always pick up the phone.
My friend was calling about her dad.
This wasn’t long after her beloved mom had passed.
And her dad had started dating.
My friend was struggling with the idea that her dad could be with another woman.
Not her mother.
“I guess I should be relieved he has someone to spend time with,” she reasoned. “I mean, at least he’s not sitting home alone opening a can of soup for dinner.”
I should mention I was multitasking as I listened.
My phone crooked between ear and raised shoulder.
Back when any of us spoke on home phones.
Listening, while making my dinner.
Which, if you must know,
Was a can of soup.
Like a scene out of movie.
I was dumping the can of soup into a pot on my stove just as my friend was describing this as the ultimate symbol of a pathetically lonely, sad life.
“There are two parts of this story,” I told my teen.
The shock and horror of knowing my dinner, my life, was my good friend’s definition of tragedy.
And, as I had a moment to reflect.
To sit down,
To slurp down my soup,
That I actually liked that kind of dinner.
Warm food in my belly.
Today, the story has even more spice.
Who would’ve thought that Ol’Soup-For-Dinner Lady would end up married with two kids?
I certainly would’ve never encouraged such a bet.
Yet, here I am.
Doing things like talking about what does it mean to be happy with a teenager.
And my friend’s dad?
All these years later, that woman has given him many years of happiness and companionship.
They’ve traveled the world, perhaps even had soup together.
Most nights I’m now fixing dinner for four.
Sometimes, I have to pinch myself that I get a turn at such a rich family life.
And sometimes, between you and me, Dear Reader,
I’m nostalgic for that can of soup.
When dinner was simple.
Just me to please.
What is your happy?
Is it possible that it is someone else’s version of pathetic?
I think that’s OK.
I’ve come to accept that there are as many versions of happy as there are flavors of canned soup on the grocery store shelves.
You might gag at the idea of my Minestrone.
I want no part of your Creamy Potato Bacon With Cheese.
Maybe, just maybe,
Happy is as simple as owning your can of soup.