I rarely know what I’ll write for #2MinutesGo Fridays…but this is what poured from me yesterday. I hope you’ll come visit some week and write, read, or comment!
It had been a good week for the restaurant but not for me. I wanted to plead a headache and tired feet and go home, but my maître d’ enjoyed our weekly ritual and I didn’t want to disappoint him. “Tell me,” he said, after we’d nearly emptied our first glasses of wine. “Would you ever go back to Russia?”
“What’s the point? There’s nothing to go back to.”
“I would go back,” he said. “I want to experience where my parents came from.” Ever since seeing some silly Hallmark card of a movie, Dmitri has been enamored of the idea of discovering one’s roots, of reconnecting with the soil from which one had sprouted. But he was born in Brighton Beach, to Russian immigrants, and has never known another country. I’ve had enough of roots and soil. That poor, pathetic village where I’d spent my childhood might have given birth to me, but after it betrayed me, I felt no compunction to return. That soil and I owe each other nothing.
“Bloom where you’re planted.” I refilled our glasses and waved a hand around my state-of-the-art kitchen. “Here, I bloom. Not in some field of mud and chicken shit which is now probably a shopping mall.”
“Yes.” He gave me a small and telling smile. “It’s wonderful here, the best restaurant in the neighborhood.”
“But you think I’m missing something.”
I took his silence as a yes and gulped half my wine—not the best pinot noir we’ve ever served but hardly the worst—then clicked the glass back to the counter more gently than I wanted to. Hell, if I were alone, I’d have flung it against the wall. “Ask your parents what they’re missing. Ask them why they left.”
His jaw tightened. “Perhaps it is time to close. I’ll call you a cab.”
I let out a long sigh as if it could expel the bitterness from my body. He was right to be angry with me. He didn’t deserve the business end of my metaphorical knife. How was he to know that Sergei had left me for his twenty-five-year-old girlfriend in Moscow? My personal life was nobody’s business, especially those in my employ. “I’m sorry. It must be the wine.”
Dmitri nodded and crossed to the register. “No need to apologize. Maybe it was not a good year for the grapes.”
I stopped him before he could pick up the phone. “Dmitri. If you would ever like to take your vacation there, I would be happy to give you the extra time. And a little bonus.”
His eyebrows rose. “Really. Extra time and a bonus to go back to ‘nothing’?”
“Who knows?” I shrugged. “For you it might be different. Maybe they have not yet built a shopping mall.”
He accepted my peace offering, and as I got into the cab, I watched him disappear into the night. Hoping that if he did decide to make the trip, he would find fulfillment. Unlike what Russia had given me—the scars I never revealed, a jail sentence I could never unremember. No. They would never have me back. Even if I desired to return. I would continue to grow where I had planted myself. True, I could no longer bear fruit like a twenty-five-year-old, but I would dig my roots harder into my adopted soil and bloom with a goddamn passion.