There are often silver linings to difficult situations, and that is true even when marriages end. Once upon a time, my husband and I were the couple that everyone thought would last forever and that expectation— and the shock I often see when I say we’ve split up after 20 years—makes the separation hard.
I still know everything I once loved about my husband, the teenager’s father, my first love. And I will always cherish those memories and I will miss those feelings we once had for each other. As I’m sure he has similar nostalgia and good-heartedness.
It was he who told me no matter what happened we would always be family.
And we will.
But there are some parts of this process that are uplifting. New beginnings. New traditions. No more compromising.
Ending family curses.
I mean that. You see, my household had a curse that involved grilling.
You see, every day time we tried to grill, it rained.
Today, I decided to grill. We have a couple of portable charcoal grills. I even sprung for the instant/match light charcoal.
But I decided to keep it vegetarian.
That way if I didn’t get everything cooked properly I didn’t have to worry about the internal temperature of meat.
And since I paid for about ten years of Girl Scout summer camp for the teenager, she should be able to cook on a fire.
So first I weeded the yard and cleaned up the grill.
Got the hose and some Brillo pads.
And the teenager reassembled the grill (and we lost some nuts and bolts— oops). I wrapped a sweet potato in some foil to toss in the coals and also some apples.
I put carrots and fingerling potatoes in the basket.
And I planned on making some chickpea Bubba vegetarian burgers once the grill got good and hot. Sadly, the burgers were freezer-burned beyond a level that could be salvaged.
So the teenager got some chip steak and I put it on my cast iron griddle.
Now if you note in the photos that there are two grills, that’s because once my grill fell apart, we transferred the hot charcoal into the other grill.
But hey— at least it wasn’t raining.
To make matters interesting, the sweet potato was half-cooked. The teenager thought the potatoes and carrots too crunchy and charred. And the chip steak overcooked. But it was a meal we laughed a lot over and we didn’t starve.
The teenager used my small cast iron pot to make tea on the grill, which she will tell you was the best part of the meal. I got a little ice cream so our hot apples could go in it.
When the teenager would come home from Girl Scout camp, she would talk about sugared apples on the fire. I thought I’d surprise her and recreate a beloved summer childhood memory.
Except I didn’t know to core the apple. Obvious now. And we forgot to turn them so they were only hot on one side.
I really had a lovely evening barbecuing with the teenager at the helm of the fire, but sometimes I think my family life might be the script for the next movie in the National Lampoon franchise.