I shall begin with white vapor, billowing from the open oven, spreading the scent of onion, sage and melting fat. The room, still brittle cold, the clean kitchen counters and tools all in a row.

I shall touch the knife, cold and gleaming. Its edge sharp and biting, like new grief.

I shall note the early morning glare through the window, revealing the streaks and smudges of yesterday’s cleaning, the breathless quiet before the rest of the house awakens, the too-good-to-be-true promise of a perfect day.

Did I expect meticulous planning to make it all come out right, moist and flavorful, finished all together, tasting of love and work, the act of giving reward enough?

I didn’t expect to be annoyed at the group drinking coffee in the next room. Nor did I expect to need acknowledgment or assistance. And when they are offered, I didn’t expect my throat to tighten and my eyes to sting. A year of anticipation culminating in a 15-minute meal.

Later, when I hug the last guest goodbye, I feel giddy and tired and surprised by an overwhelming disappointment.

Now I know I am not the host I thought myself to be. It’s not enough to make the plan, to do the work, present the platters and the house. It’s not enough.

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