my then boyfriend wanted to keep our relationship a secret from the mob of news hounds in our presence, so we pretended to not really know each other all that well on these outings. then he would call me on the phone and talk to me, though our desks were barely 20 feet apart.
one favorite lunch place was a small sandwich shop tucked around the corner from the newsroom, and in my memory, we ate there fairly often, when i could afford a lunch out. my favorite thing on the menu was a turkey sandwich with cheese and a dollop of cranberry sauce (the canned, jelled kind my mother always served at Thanksgiving), with cheese and sprouts.
i'd never eaten such a sandwich. the turkey sandwich mama always made for us was but delectable: Wonder Bread, turkey slices, iceberg, sweet pickles (not bread and butter, but the homemade kind) and Duke's. simple. perfect. as i recall, on that reporter's first visit to meet my family, my mother made that sandwich for us to share on the ride back to Augusta from The Neck. (for the un-inititated, that's the nickname of my hometown.)
but i became a city girl, ready to take on new tastes, and this new way to create a turkey sandwich caught my attention. as had the rakish reporter who sometimes shared the table with me. and this sandwich would become a piece of our history as a couple... just like how i remember him giving me my engagement ring over a Wendy's single, no cheese. (and that is the truth.)
in the years since, i've made that turkey sandwich off and on, learning that my husband of 33 years really never liked the sprouts part but he ate it anyway. (he probably never knew that Wendys was not my fav of burgers, but i digress.
i've been feeling a bit disconnected from that reporter of late, and i miss him. we come and go, sharing too often the spare conversational meal as we head out to work or wherever, our minds set on the next thing and the next, rather than on each other. it feels like after all this time, each other does not matter as much as it should, and this saddens me.
a young woman i work with who recently had her first baby is outright effusive about the love she has for her little nugget and the husband who helped make her. was i ever that effusive about that reporter i once knew? surely i must have felt that way, and in recent days, i have been mining my memory to find that feeling again.
last night i made that old sandwich, lathering on the Dukes, changing out the spouts for shredded iceberg, piling on the turkey and the cranberry sauce, this time not the canned kind. just to see if he would remember.
i'm not sure he did, but he did say that this was always the best sandwich, which is a start.
what is it that reconnects a couple who have been have together so long that they've forgotten why they came together in the first place? i have been thinking about this a lot.
i hope it can begin with a simple sandwich and go from there.
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