“Excuse me! Can I have everyone’s attention?” the stranger asked while holding his glass in the air. “This is Ade. He has been gone for a while, but now he is back! Please make him feel welcomed.”
As the stranger removed his arm from my shoulder he stressed that his home was also my home. “Make yourself comfortable. The bathroom is down the hall on the right and there is food in the kitchen if you are hungry,” he says like any good party host would and walks away.
The conversations and random chatter immediately decreased after the stranger introduced me. A gentleman standing next to the television nodded his head and raised his glass in my direction. Our eyes met and I returned the gesture. Two women holding plates full of food next to the Spider plants and Peace Lilies turned their vision toward me. Their charcoal eyes inspected my entire body as if I was passing through immigration at the airport. After acknowledging my presence they returned their vision towards each other.
The space in the house was completely filled with odd people whom I knew nothing about. Up until this point, so much had happened in such a short time. I was mentally on overload and beginning to break down physically. I had no desire left, or energy for that matter to meet anyone else. However, as I made my way to the kitchen, random guests continued to introduce themselves. “Welcome back, Ade,” a man with a thick mustache said. “I know it must feel strange being home again,” he said with a big smile on his face. Hearing the same language from people I’d never seen before was beginning to annoy me. If this was my home, why didn’t I recognize anyone? And why did everyone recognize me? I smiled at the man and cordially responded, ” Yeah, it does feel different, but hopefully it will feel like home again soon.”
After accidentally disrupting several conversations, I arrived at the kitchen. Inside were two plastic folding tables with a myriad of different foods and beverages laid out neatly on top. On one table there was roast beef with delicately sliced pieces of succulent ham surrounding a big golden brown turkey. The other table had several different kinds of rice, macaroni, greens and salads. My eyes were surely bigger than my appetite, but I wanted to take full advantage of all the delicious food. I loaded my plate with a little bit of everything. Foods that I didn’t eat in the past were some of my new favorites. Things like cauliflower and kale took up more space on my plate than meat. Maybe things were different. My choice of food sure was.
Stuffing was the last dish at the end of the table. “Why would someone remove it from the turkey and placed it here?” I asked myself. In my opinion, stuffing tasted better from inside the turkey. With my plate nearly out of space, I found the last remaining free spot for the dish I loved. I heaped a large spoon full onto my plate. A few grains of rice fell to the ground in the process, but no one saw. After all, this was a party with tons of people that meant nothing to me. Why would they show any concern over a few grains of rice I scattered across the floor?
With my plate fully loaded I embarked on my next mission: looking for a place to sit.
People continued to flow into the house and subsequently to the dinning room and kitchen. At this point there was standing room only. The two women who I exchanged glances with earlier entered the kitchen. They sure knew how to eat for being as thin as they were. At this party food was unlimited and there was no rule against ‘seconds’ and ‘thirds’. “Eat up!” I said to them as we passed by each other. Both ladies smiled, which was comforting compared to their earlier antics.
I walked through crowds of people, peeking through open spaces hoping to find a seat. The dinning room table had coats and jackets piled up on top and its chairs were stacked up tightly in the corner. Although, I was hoping to stay in the minority, the majority of people were standing up while eating. Fitting as many people in the house was priority. Already convinced that I too, would have to stand up and eat my food, I looked for a comfortable spot against the wall. I found an open space and quickly headed toward it. Against the wall I could see the entire dinning room and part of the kitchen. I don’t know why, but it felt safe having my back against the wall. I guess that’s the carnal side of people. Content with my spot; I crossed my legs, pressed my back to the wall and brought the fork up to my mouth. The gastric acids in my stomach were ready for whatever was coming down the digestive tract. If I waited any longer, they would surely eat through my stomach. I closed my eyes and prepared to gobble down everything on the fork when suddenly someone taps me on my shoulder. “Another random guest I thought to myself. “Yeah yeah, it does feel strange being back after all these years,” I said with my eyes closed and a fork full of food in front of my face. I regretted what I said as soon as it left my mouth. Up until now there was no variation in what people said to me and I was just hoping to avoid frustration by beating them to their question. I simply knew what they were going to say. “Deep sigh…Ade, just open your eyes and be nice,” I said in an agitated voice. As I put the fork full of food back down on the plate I slowly opened my eyes and saw that the random person who tapped me on my shoulder was my father.
“What was he doing here?” I asked myself.