My friend fed me tonight. I dropped by her room, several hours after I normally would have eaten dinner, 30 minutes before she had to leave for a meeting. Within a minute, she handed me a plate piled high with spaghetti and an amazing tomato-garlic-sausage explosion. Needless to say, it was delicious.
She sat next to me on the couch and watched me eat, as though she was doubting whether I liked the food. (I wished she wouldn't watch, though, because I was splattering tomato sauce all around my mouth as the noodles whipped around and tried to slip off the fork.) "Isn't the sausage good?" my friend asked. I told her it was delicious, that everything was delicious. "I thought it was really good sausage. I gave you a lot of it, I don't know if you want it all. But I figured since you don't buy meat,* I should feed you some."
It was a lot of meat, more than I would have served myself. But I ate it very happily, because she had given it to me, thinking of me. It felt lovely to be taken care of. I do enjoy living away from home, cooking for myself, setting my own schedule--but sometimes independence becomes empty. When you share a meal with someone, you commune on a level deeper than words. When someone voluntarily cooks for me, I know in my bones and gut: that person cares about me.
When I finished the pasta, my friend served a scoop of ice cream, swimming in homemade caramel sauce. The sugar sang in my mouth.
Sitting with my friend, letting the conversation slip by, sweetened my soul. A friendship is built on a million moments like that--just living together. Talking is good, too. But conversations are captions; the pictures are the important part.
*I love meat, but I don't buy it because the meat that my conscience finds acceptable (free-range type stuff (though the terms are so fuzzy that it's hard to know)) is not at all acceptable to my pocketbook.