Chicken & Rice

by Mary Bryce • Illustration by Bambi Edlund

No one told me how much of life is just saying goodbye.

Because I was on a plane today, and then on a bus, and somewhere in between the two, I saw the ghost of my face reflected back at me. And I thought:

My God.

I’m not a child anymore.

I’m not a kid.

I’m not even a teenager.

I’m somewhere.

Maybe close to being a woman, but still so, so far.

(It is a long way, to being a woman.)

And I realized all over again, that my sandbox sand castle days, and the shallow end of the swimming pool, and pretend, and not having hips, and going to piano lessons with my brother, and never doing laundry because my mom did it, and dolls, and falling in love with books instead of boys and not knowing about things like funerals and pain—without knowing it, somewhere, I said goodbye.

And maybe it’s because of that very specific goodbye that I cling so fiercely to second chances.

Because I have to believe I will see you again.

Because I have to believe I will come back.

Because it’s too hard otherwise.

And because, the thought of not eating the chicken and rice I had at this little place in Portugal, the thought of never eating that again completely undoes me.

To never eat that chicken and rice again would be tragic.

It would be the worst.

I cannot handle a reality that does not have a repeat of that chicken and rice.

So I believe in second chances, and third chances, and returns and surprise encounters.

I believe in circularity and the stupid/fun/funny part of life that makes for good stories, and plot twists and romance and mystery.

I have faith in this.

I’m looking forward now. 

Looking forward towards maybe being a woman someday. Sort of.

But more than that, I look forward to owning a long, rectangular kitchen table that maybe I’ll build myself. A kitchen table I’ll build myself, with lots of candles on it. And there are all the people I love, who have come back and second-chance-miracle-surprised me, sitting at this table.

And then we will eat chicken and rice.