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My mother was doing that thing she did, that thing with the rag in the sink. She washed all the dull plates until they were immaculate in appearance. Singing beneath her breath the sorrows of her life, she set a table for three as she had always done, though she and I both knew there would be no third party.
But tonight would be different?or at least we hoped. Tonight was not just any night. It was Tuesday night, which meant spaghetti?John’s favorite. Whatever problems we had prior to Tuesday night, we kept to ourselves waiting until then to leave them at the spaghetti junction.
I remember eight years ago, my parents ruined the spaghetti junction. It was a Tuesday unlike any other. Rich tomato sauce over freshly steamed pasta with a hint of parsley and oregano, garlic bread on the side: are the things I did not smell upon entering my home that Tuesday.
Instead, I entered into a flurry of unusual screaming voices. They were desperate and shrill. They were the voices of my parents trying to salvage what little was left of their relationship, their marriage. Confusion clouded my perception. But still I cried. I cried because I was scared. I cried because I didn't understand. Except I was too young to understand. Yet I cried. Mostly because throughout my entire life, I had come to recognize Tuesday as the day when nothing in my life was bad.
There were seven days in the week. And even if six of them were bad, I knew that one would make everything better. But that week, there was no Tuesday. No day to break the cycle of sorrow in my life. There was no spaghetti junction. There was no me.
For quite some time John remained distant, working late at the rail yard and coming home only to go to the garage and work on his car. And so my mother and I ate alone. Life became a six day week of hell for me. A repeated cycle of heartbreak and sorrow. Monday, on to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and so on. Tuesday didn't exist. Neither did spaghetti junction or my family.
I persisted to exist elsewhere only to become invisible at home. This continued through high school graduation, which neither of my parents attended. And on into college where my parents were absent at the transition ceremony from undergrad to graduate school. Until I received a call from my mother. A call that I missed as it was nearing semester break and midterms were going on.
I hesitated to call back because of the hurt my parents had caused me. But I called. And she invited me to dinner. And so I went still hoping that things might be different and Tuesday could again be a reality for me.
I arrived right around dinner time and nothing had changed thus far. I had left my condo a confused man and entered my parent's house a broken child once more.
Memories should have fluttered in my mind as I walked through the living room and past the room that had listened to a lifetime of my crying. But in place of those memories, there was nothing but sorrow and gloom.
I entered the kitchen bearing a bottle of aged wine I picked up along the way. I sat down at the table. My mother was doing that thing she did, that thing with the rag in the sink. She washed all the dull plates until they appeared to be immaculate. And singing the sorrows of her life beneath her breath, she set a table for three as she had always done, though I knew there would be no third party.
Tonight would be different?or so I hoped. Tonight wasn't just any night. It was Tuesday. The day I had previously dreaded until that moment when my father entered the kitchen, placing his hand on my head as he took a seat next to me, as if to say: " welcome home son." It was the first time in a long time he was my father and not John. My mother stopped doing that thing she did and joined us at the table.
I had existed all this time. I existed in the hearts of my parents, I existed in Tuesday, and I existed in spaghetti junction. These things in turn existed in my heart. And so I cried. I cried not because I was too young to understand. But I cried because there was a family; there was love. There was Tuesday. And there was spaghetti junction.