there we were. two kids from the carolinas. raised on barbecue and fried chicken, used to grease. used to the messiness of eating with our fingers. the stickiness and sloppiness of it all.
but nothing could prepare us for that night in maine. the restaurant we reached at nightfall, the water and air the same shade of ebony. we were there too late to see the sunset flicker off the atlantic, or push the light out of each other's hair like we did on the vineyard.
we sat in the deep booth anyway. ordered the lobster. the one we'd waited for the whole trip. the waitress brought out the array. the buckets. the bibs. the nutcrackers. this was our first experience, and the whole thing was alien.
and the mess. oh, you guys. i think i was doing it wrong. my dress was ruined. robert spent about twenty minutes on one claw. we were so juvenile. amateurs. then, what started out as a giggle turned into a guffaw, and we shook the booth trying to maintain some air of civility, both of us trying not to look at each other, only our pitiful lobsters, tears streaming from the hilarity of it all.
somewhere behind me, a group was talking loudly. i heard snippets like "napa valley" "when i wrote my first book" and "oh, he's traveling for photojournalism." they were feasting on a four-course lobster meal, drinking red wine by the bottle.
they were completely spotless.
we paid and left out the side door, our bibs hanging in shreds in defeat. let them have their white linens. their unsmeared lipstick and powdered noses.
we'll have each other. and the dirt and muck and squalor that inevitably will come. just as in the morning, all is washed anew, with 24 more glorious hours to sink our teeth and elbows into all that life has to offer, embracing the mess, shying not.