When I asked the anonymous writer what her piece meant she emailed me back the following: "It's a time in my life that every now and then I can't help remembering because of how different things turned out. A recount of different memories. In the current moment, menu planning & housework take up most of my time- and I love putting effort and love into it. Sometimes though, I think back to when I had the "impressive" internship, and it's like I never left- like I'm still asking the same questions over and over again, trying to tight rope between what everyone expected and this big New York experience at a news network. In the end, I left because I didn't see a compatible future. My life looks very different from the young aspiring media intern that I was, but it would be dishonest say that that’s a bad thing. This is a list. It’s a list of what I had for dinner over the last week, and where my mind was - hint: it wasn’t in my kitchen."
Monday night was chicken cutlets, stuffed with cooked spinach and rolled in crumbs.
I see bright lights and large buildings and coffee in a breakroom. I sit behind a desk and pretend to be a news anchor. But something in me shudders, something in me thinks it might die.
Tuesday night was London Broil, baked in a marinade and eaten between two pieces of fresh-baked focaccia.
My head presses against the skyscraper glass, looking out into the darkening city. Grandpa would be furious if we drove to Jersey in the dark. I wonder what he would say to a midnight train ride. I bite my lips when I get nervous, and I know I shouldn’t care.
Wednesday night was angel-hair spaghetti sautéed with cranberries and lightly toasted almonds. French dressing and cut vegetables, dripping with ice cold water from the tap.
I’m in a green-room with a Mayor and all I can do is look down. Don’t meet his eye, don’t, please. What do I have to say to a Mayor? Little me, the intern, the fool. Why aren’t I married? Why can’t I be home?
Thursday night was tomato soup with elbow noodles, the kind they used to give us at school.
Why did I say ‘teacher?’ I’ve never wanted to be a teacher, and I don’t want to be one now. But something in the anchor’s smiling face and waiting eyes told me that I had better say something, I’d better answer her polite question. “Teacher.” Why did it come to me so quickly?
Friday night was kibbeh cherry, sticky white rice, and chicken rubbed with zaatar.
It’s hard, being at shabbat meals. Everyone’s here, but somehow I’m alone in the den where the TV is on. I’m watching the anchor on it. She’s smiling and all the while I hear laughter from the dining room. Am I in the right place? There’s an impossible itch on my right and left sides that can’t wait for Monday.
Saturday lunch is lahamagene, corned beef and three to four salads. Dessert might be some cookies and fresh cut fruit, excess juices cleaned and thrown away.
I can’t- wont- blame him. I repeat it in my head over and over so as not to forget. Foot over foot I’m climbing the stairs to my childhood bedroom. I’m taking off a blazer in favor of a causal blouse and skinny jeans. I’m meeting my friends for lunch, I decide. I can’t- wont- blame him. I return downstairs and sit directly across from him, to remember it more. He sees my clothes and smiles, relieved, and asks about school, my friends, my dates- and we ignore the elephant in Manhattan and on my resume. It won’t be there for much longer. We sip our coffee and forget it. The elephant. “Teacher.”
Sunday night was the same as before. As always.