Inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge, I was to write a memoir piece in which one of the following features prominently: Wine, Coffee, or Chocolate.
"Conjure a moment."
The following moment came to mind...
I couldn’t stop thinking about the thick, succulent steak and lobster I would devour that night. I would order the steak cooked my favorite way- medium rare- knowing I would not have to worry about contamination.
It was the first time I had dressed like a girl in months. My short legs were finally long again, as they appended sparkly heels. My hair was full, curled and fell down past my shoulders. I even took the time to paint my nails fire-engine red. I was completely out of regulation.
I couldn’t stop staring at my handsome date, and my love. Tonight we were going to be ‘real people’. I smiled and squeezed his arm close to me as we walked inside the restaurant.
We sat across from each other at a table that overlooked the water, holding hands. The waves glistened in the moonlight and crashed upon the shoreline. No expense was spared as we celebrated at our favorite restaurant.
I glanced around and was met with stagnant expressions from my fellow diners. I wanted to shake them and say, “How are you not smiling? Don’t you realize we are all here and that all of us have it so good?!” Instead, I just fashioned them the biggest grin I could. Surely, they thought I was daft.
The waitress read the specials of the night in English. Her New England accent was music to my ears. She asked to start with our drink order.
“I would love a glass of your house Red and a side of water, please,” I requested, thinking how wonderful the wine would taste with my steak.
“Can I see some ID?”
Without thinking, I handed her my military ID- the same 2-inch rectangle that dictated whether or not I was allowed to pass through the safety and familiarity of armed American gates in the middle of a foreign country. It was the rectangle that held my entire identity and fate for the past 6 months.
“I’m sorry Hun, but you’re not of age. I’ll bring you that water though.” She placed the card on the table, and headed back to the kitchen.
It took me a second to register what just happened.
“Welcome back to the states, Babe.”
Embarrassed, I sat back in my seat. Maybe I was going crazy. In my head I felt seventy- I had worry lines around my eyes and dark circles to prove it- despite their mere twenty years. It had been so long now that I was away. I had simply forgotten that I was not old enough to drink a glass of wine with dinner in my own country- though I was old enough to fight for it.