It’s the little things that keep me going. The bits of life that compress into diamonds that make me laugh and feel connected. Like the time my friends Matt and Maria ordered an elegant seafood meal to surprise me for my 16th birthday. Maria, who was Swedish from Sweden, and a year older than we were, knew about seafood and other exotic dietary items like seasonal produce. At dinner, Matt and I looked like we were trying to eat something encased in combination locks. I wrestled with a lobster, nearly falling off my chair, while Maria let Matt struggle with eating a whole, unpeeled shrimp for five minutes until she calmly informed him that he could remove the shell and legs. I always thought Maria and her family were cool – and not just because they didn’t need the how-to-eat-seafood course at the local Red Lobster by the mall. Her family made an effort to connect to the seasons and to food in a way that our suburban family didn’t. Their annual summer Maypole party always generated gossip amongst those who preferred the sound of their TVs to the melodic wanderings of Swedish songs echoing across the Pennsylvanian neighborhood of quiet backyards and locked houses. Their traditions have left an impression on me that outlasted the plush terrycloth Bjorn Borg headbands that seemed so important in my late teens.
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