Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Kindness of Friends, Family, Strangers -- And Eggs

Last week was wretched.  Miserable, horrible, terrible.  So very bad that, if it hadn't had been so very awful, it would been comical.  But not very.

I don't want to re-live all the details, but suffice to say that divorce is devastating.  Being a single mom is gut-wrenching.  And being kids of divorce is worst of all.  At some point last week, everyone Chez Wiles was enraged or tearful or both.

Then, Cougar Bait (my 200-mile-away lifeline), who was recovering from the flu, came down with pneumonia. I ran out of shampoo. Son's Eagle project got tanked two days just before he finished the proposal.  The dog peed on the rug.  A dear 87-year-old friend passed away.  I left a raw chuck roast on the counter overnight.  A much-needed therapist was hospitalized.  And although all these things were true, I plainly couldn't even prioritize which things were worth grieving.

I was wretched.  At one point, I called in "wretched" to work.  Some people call in sick.  I call in sobbing.

To clear my head, I decided to go for a walk-run on a 5K trail in another part of town.  Historically, this doesn't always work in my favor.  A few months back, I made a similar choice and ended up with a fractured elbow. (See "Worst Mom Ever Falls Down And Goes Boom.")  This time, though, I finished with a more peaceful attitude, a fresh perspective and tear-free eyes -- that is, until I got to the parking lot and found my rear passenger window shattered and my purse gone.

Shap.  Shap, shap, shap, shap, sh*%!

I couldn't even think what to do next.  Who to call?  After initially dialing CB, I hung up to call the police.  Shap.  Then CB.  Then "All-Knowing Neighbors."

And suddenly, things began falling back into place.  When the officer arrived, and I glumly said, "Tomorrow will be a better day," he smiled and said, "C'mon now.  Tonight will be a better day."  (To my credit, I didn't even point out the difference between "night" and "day.")

Before the policeman had even finished his report, CB had already ordered a new window and made arrangements -- with Jordan, my new friend, who has no problem with crying women --  for repairs.

"All-Knowing-Neighbors" brought gracious plenty cash.  And the sandwich bags and bread I needed to pack lunches the next day.  And the number to the DMV, so I could get my license replaced.  And wine.  A whole bottle.  It's hard to say which was more needed.

"Beloved Family" called and sympathized, saying to me what I'd been preaching to the kids all week, "Not to worry.  You're strong.  You're smart.  You can handle this.  It'll be OK."

So I cancelled the credit cards, notified my bank, and tried to think of what else had been in my purse.  (Duh.  Health insurance cards.  Two prescriptions -- one filled and one not.  An unreasonably large check made out to me.  And -- my Costco and Starbucks cards.  Sigh.)

Then, no kidding, some young kid in a button-down and tie shows up in my driveway.  He works for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and when he stopped for a Big Gulp on his way home from work, he found some of my cards -- including my license -- strewn through the parking lot.  I could've cried.  And I probably did.  I'd already cancelled the credit cards, but still, it just felt good to get some of my stuff back.  And even better to know that someone would be kind enough to bring them back.  Even if I didn't have any cash to give him as a reward.

Turns out the police officer was right.  With the love and support and bank accounts and wine cellars of friends and family -- not to mention the kindness of strangers -- "tonight was a better day."

We're going to be just fine.

Shrimpy Eggs
Tough times call for comfort food.  Wretched times call for comfort food in a hurry -- and nothing's quicker or more satisfying than eggs.  In Charleston, we'd have variations of this dish for breakfast -- based on leftover shrimp from the night before -- but it's also a terrific dinner dish all on its own.

For every two eggs, you'll need ...

1 teaspoon butter or olive oil
4-5 raw shrimp, peeled and cut into bitesize pieces
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Heat butter over medium heat in a medium-sized nonstick skillet.  In hot butter, saute shrimp and bell pepper until shrimp is pink.  Whisk eggs together with salt, pepper and a small splash of water.  Stir into skillet, with chives and goat cheese (if using).  Cook, scrambling, until eggs are done to your likeness.  Count your blessings.  And savor.

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