My mom’s second husband adopted me when I was two, but we only lived together for three years after that. They got divorced, and suddenly had a see-you-on-the-weekend dad. But, from those early years, when we hung out alone until he got remarried, my memories are happy and strong. And the most vivid ones are about food.
I remember going to his apartment building over Passover and he made us peanut butter and jam on matzo. It was surprisingly really good. When he picked me up on Saturday mornings, we always stopped by a lox and bagel place by the highway, to get breakfast for Sunday mornings. Trips to the park always included burgers and fries at Little Louie’s, a delicious hamburger shack across from the playground.
Sometimes I’d get to see him on Tuesday nights, too, and we’d go to Pekin House in my neighborhood and enjoy every bite of the best eggrolls that, to this day, I’ve ever had.
By the time I was eleven, it was over. He’d gotten remarried, and our meals for two were over. We still got bagels, but those Sunday mornings were never the same. It wasn’t just the two of us. Breakfast became too big of a production, with too many different kinds of cream cheese and sliced avocados and a new stepmother on the side.
I stopped seeing him at the beginning of sixth grade, so memories were and are all I have left.
I know, throughout those weekends, my dad taught me how to throw a Frisbee (I could never really get it), shoot baskets and ride my purple bike. But, for some reason, it’s the little things with food that make up my happiest memories. Back then, I’m sure he was focused on the big things – like learning to take care of me alone, put my hair in pigtails and juggle visitation schedules. He’d be surprised, forty years later, to know that what I remember most are simply the meals.