After more painting during the day, I had a Sunday night dinner with my friend Anna on the Upper East Side. On this trip, I brought one box, because Anna lives in a small space. Anna became a friend, by way of another friend, Kara. Kara is one of my best friends from home, growing up with me from the time we were in the 6th Grade and into various high school shenanigans. Anna became Kara’s good friend in college when they met at Gonzaga. On a visit to the city, Kara introduced me to Anna and after a few visits, Anna and I decided to also hang out without Kara. We are both living here in the city, out of our comfort zones, and in a new place. I think Anna and I get along well because of our interest in trying new things and more importantly–eating! Since I met Anna, we have always enjoyed many delicious meals together and tried new things. We go to Chinatown and Queens, often in search of tasty noodles and dumplings. This time, we left out the Chinese and focused more on family.
The food I brought was based on a few dishes Anna mentioned to me prior to the dinners. Carnitas, baked chicken, potatoes, and chips and salsa. A random mix of things that hold special memories of family for Anna. My only regret was not bringing the wine. We had a nice meal over some of Anna’s family’s food traditions. Basic things that hold memories for her. It’s interesting because it made me think of my family, and how it’s not s much about the food and dishes, but just the fact that we can be together. Anna said that although carnitas is something her dad always made, she would much rather have carne asada when getting Mexican. However, the carnitas reminds her of family gatherings.
Although this was a “phone-free” dinner, it has been a phone-free weekend for Anna since she lost her phone this weekend. After her phone went missing, we coordinated this dinner over Facebook messenger. We also talked about how not having a phone makes us feel so limited, but at the same time frees you from a lot. Unfortunately Anna’s NY life was also lost with that phone because all her photos were on that little device.
We also talked about how in the city, we have pockets of friends and not large groups. We meet people through other people, but these individuals somehow become our support. I have only known Anna for a little over a year, but I like to make the effort to see her. In a place so busy like New York where people’s schedules often don’t align, you make the extra effort to spend time with your friends. A ritual, like dinner, becomes a great excuse to get together. Anna and I become friends through Kara, but even more so over the conversations we had getting to know each other over dinner.
Dinner, or meals, allow for an open exchange and conversation between complete strangers. It is a time to share stories and open discussion on many topics. Dinners also become an excuse to get together, the hardest part being making time to get together. Now I can see why my mom made it a point for us to have dinner together. Without the conversation, without seeing each other, without being in the same place, it would be difficult to feel complete. Being together makes you feel like you’re apart of something. Receiving attention from another person makes you feel needed and gives you a sense of purpose. When we use our phones and put them in front of our faces, we seclude ourselves from others. Without our phones conversations become richer and meaningful, making people think about what’s going on and sharing because no one likes dead silence, that’s just a little awkward.
I would have never met Anna if it wasn’t for my friend from home. Home seems to follow me wherever I go, however it happens. In this case, it brought me a new friend, in a new city, and a new dinner ritual all contributing to my story and my heritage.