This time last year, I had a naked turkey between my feet on the ride home from school. It was in a plastic bag, but that was all that was shielding Turkey Tom from the elements and my sneakers.
It was so heavy. Joaquin bolted from the copy room the minute I walked into school that day. Beaming from ear to ear, he assured me it would be the perfect turkey, although a bit bigger than originally intended. A bit? In Spanish we call that una mentira.. a lie.
Just a few days earlier, I had a pow wow with Joaquin and Loli. Yes, it needs to be cleaned. Right, everything out. Everything. Yes, I still want the whole bird. No, I don’t want to kill it myself! Hearty laughter after this last exclamation, despite the panicked look in my eye.
Thanksgiving Eve found my roommates and I up to our elbows in turkey. Plucked? Yes.. except for those horrible little downy feathers that stuck to our fingers. Cleaned out? Yes.. except for the lungs that I discovered while skyping with my mom. My roommate Alex towering over my shoulder, angling my laptop just so. “Mom there’s squishy stuff near the ribs.” “Take everything out.” “What the hell is it?” “I don’t know, but you have to take it out.”
Several hours later we are cursing the bird, the pueblo it came from and the very idea of Thanksgiving. We go to school the next day, tired and checking on the side dishes coming to us from friends, in a potluck-style celebration. I think about the package from my parents (because there’s always a package from my parents). This one holds McCormick gravy mix, cranberry sauce, Stove Top stuffing.
In the end our table seats fifteen. We are mostly Americans, with two Spaniards in the mix. The turkey is awesome, my roommate Andrea glowing in her apron and her success. Ana brings wine from her family’s bodega and we give a toast – each guest saying what they’re thankful for.
This year I’m in an airport in Peoria, Illinois, waiting for a flight home to Pennsylvania.
The table will seat three: my parents and I the ultimate trio. Thanksgiving Eve will be for drinks and conversation with classmates (Happy 10 Year Reunion) .. no giblets or lung bits in sight. No sawing off the neck or other unsavory tail-end cleanup (thanks, Alex).
But I will think about our Triana apartment, full of food and friends. All good things come in plastic bags? This one did.