Food is love.
When we moved to Texas a couple of years ago now, part of the motivation was coming into a community of friends that felt like family and were close enough to sit down and eat with from time to time. The group of folks who would become known as the North Texas Troublemakers existed, although it was still growing into it’s own. I’d been to a Saturday supper once while visiting, and knew what it was, and why. I loved the idea.
The suppers started when there were no more than five of them, and they wanted to make sure the writers – distractible, all of us! – ate a solid meal once a week. The unspoken addendum to this is that suppers are more, much more, than the food on the table. Getting together and feeding the soul with conversation and companionship is almost more needed than the fuel for the body.
Saturday suppers kept on, as the group outgrew the houses of some, and became a regular thing at JL Curtis’s house. When the First Reader and I were house shopping, I wanted a house where I could host the dinner – not only to give Jim a break from time to time, but so I could do meals that wouldn’t be easy to transport. Saturday supper is an event, you see; an evening of good food, conversation, and fun. At 5:30, people start to trickle in, nibbling at the appetizers, talking, and passing around a few pages of someone’s story while they visit. At six, give or take the time it takes the bird in the oven to get up to temp, the call rings out from the Elder among us: “Ladies!” The conversations don’t stop so much as migrate as the women head for the kitchen, given first servings as a courtesy from the Southern gentlemen who insist they eat. You see, someone cooks every weekend, but not the same someone. There’s a rotation, occasionally adjusted for convention travel, or what-not. Sometimes it’s a couple cooking, sometimes it’s just one person. Everyone who cooks volunteered for that duty, because they enjoy it.
There are, I’ve learned, few things in life more satisfying than feeding your family. Getting to do that every five to six weeks, when I can take the time to make a really special meal? I love it. Last night was my night, and as I made the rounds through the house, stopping to hear conversations for a moment and checking that everyone had anything they needed, I was thinking about the joy this gives me. We had people in from out of town, in a couple hour radius. We had more in my little house than I thought it would accommodate – it was literally bursting at the seams, spilling out onto the front porch in the balmy spring evening. All told, 18 people ate dinner here, once my Little Man got home from work and had his plate.
It was loud, and chaotic, and absolutely wonderful. Being able to feed people, yes, but more than that, to hear the conversations and laughter going on, and knowing that my friends are refilling their joy in life being with one another. We all need humans. Loneliness is bad for the physical as well for the mental. Isolation in a human leads to depression, anxiety, and lowered cognitive abilities: we are meant to exist with a support system. The Saturday suppers are a delicious manifestation of that support, in a very tangible way. I knew, before we moved to TX, that something was missing in my life. Now, I know what it was.
I urge you, if you don’t have a group to have supper with? Find one. Even if you don’t like to cook (and there are those in our group who don’t enjoy it) you will still be welcome if you find friends who love you for who you are. Create a space where coming together to laugh, play, and spark creativity off one another feels like a big family gathering over good food. It’s work. As sore as I feel today? Hard work! But if you put in the work to build that friendship up, you’ll reap the rewards in ways you can never anticipate.