Lunch as Ritual

Pulling open the glass doors, I am hit with a rush of wind that smells like jasmine and… grilled cheese? Pizza? Broccoli? On this Barcelona Tuesday, I am heading across the courtyard where I watch a red kickball as it flies from a game two girls are playing. I stop it with my foot and look to return it but the girls are already on to something new, laughing. I wonder if I will have to take the ball to lunch with me. I carry it for a little while and when I see a pink hula hoop, I sit it gently inside the circle. I think about blue robins eggs and placing them gently back in their nest.

In the lunchroom, after pulling open the glass doors, I am hit with a rush of kid-wind that smells like shampoo. There is a line of children collecting their tin trays and utensils. There is a line of teachers doing the same and then rushing around kidline to the front- cutting really. We are all eating the same thing though. Potato salad with pickles and baked cod are on my plate. I do not discover the thinly sliced hotdogs in my potato salad until I get to my seat in the staff lunchroom. I am very happy with the hiding hotdogs.

I walk through the sliding doors and see round tables, the kind with the benches attached. Pitchers of water sit sweating and I choose a seat with the first person who smiles at me. It is hard to choose because so many people smile. Several more people join my table and they tell me who they are and they ask me who I am. I want to tell them that I am happy. No need to know where I come from or who is in my family.

I want to tell them that I am happy sitting here in this ritual they create and recreate everyday because everyone walks across the courtyard and through the dodgeballs and into the line and then ends up here at a round table with a cup of water that someone else poured just for them. They are asking each other, in every way, “How are you?” And, because they have slowed down enough to really listen, even if I feel unwell in some parts of me, I feel happy.

Lunch as ritual. Such a simple idea. It happens everyday. We need to fit it in because our bellies growl loudly unless we do. We all have something else to do and we will always have someplace else to be, an endless to-do list for all of us. But, this ritual lunch does not get added to any list. We don’t want to be done with this. We never want to be done with this. This connecting. This happiness. These hiding hotdogs. This is my kind of list. A really amazing to-do!

3 thoughts on “Lunch as Ritual

  1. Leigh Anne Eck

    Your use of sense to describe this scene is wonderful…right down to the hiding hotdogs! I’m not so sure that I would like hotdogs, no matter how thinly sliced, in my potato salad. We find great comfort in rituals, and you have captured that comfort here!


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