Sunday dinner devolved quickly. Dad and I returned to my mom and sisters silently carrying on with food prep. None of them looked up when we came in, they all just kept on viciously chopping, peeling, and sautéing like those veggies had done something wrong, instead of us.
I attempted to apologize, as did Dad. Our pleas fell on deaf ears, however. My presence wasn’t so much as acknowledged, let alone forgiven. Since it appeared that we would, eventually, have a dinner to eat, I decided to sit in the living room with my dad.
Turns out that was the wrong decision. I could feel the piercing stares and waves of disgust washing over me the entire time it took for dinner to be served. Even then, not one of them invited us to join them. We simply saw that the food was done and decided to take our chances.
We were seated around the table, the only sound the clinking and scraping of silverware on plates. It was hard to enjoy the gourmet meal I was putting in my mouth because I felt so miserable. The air felt thick and heavy with judgment of what was seen as my horrible and selfish behavior. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I set my fork down nicely next to my plate and folded my hands in my lap.
“Can we please talk about this?”
There was an immediate lack of movement from anyone in that dining room. After an unusually uncomfortable pause, my mom was the only one to speak.
“Judy…” My dad tried to smooth things out with her, placing a hand on her arm and speaking in a quiet voice. She was having none of that, though.
“Don’t you start with me, Jim! Don’t you dare. You’re as bad as she is! Sneaking out without a word to anyone!”
“There was no way to get a word IN, mom! You all were screaming at each other so loud a bomb could have gone off and you wouldn’t have noticed!” My resolve to be calm and contrite was beginning to unravel.
Lisa snorted. “Oh, right. This whole situation is OUR fault?”
“I didn’t say that. But may I point out that its nobody’s decision but MINE when or even whether I marry Jamie?!”
“Alexis, you wouldn’t!” Maggie gasped and stared at me with wide eyes.
I looked around the table at these people I loved – my mom, fuming at everyone around her; Maggie on the verge of tears at the idea that I might not get married; my dad looking like he was trying to figure out how to avoid sleeping on the couch that night; and Lisa showing zero emotion with her eyes glued to some imaginary spot on the wall – and I couldn’t be there one second longer.
I scraped my plate into the trash, thanked them all for a wonderful dinner, and slammed out the door without looking back.
Huh. Seemed I had developed a ‘modus operandi’ of running away from my problems. I made a mental note to see someone about that.