Tonight our family went out for a celebratory dinner, having completed a transaction that ended an unfortunate association. We went to The Mayan, a restaurant with "Mayan" cliff divers acting out hyperbolic dramas and randomly diving, jumping, and falling into the safely chlorinated pool below their rocky stage. The kids love it, and dh and I have taken them there for birthdays and when family visits.
Tonight was the first time we've been since the place was renovated and the menu revamped. They no longer serve fajitas, but have a dish called something like Fajita Adventure, which I guess is supposed to be a classier take on fajitas. Instead of the classic flavors and sides, it had poblano peppers and onions, a black bean and corn salsa, a side of some kind of rice pilaf, and a dab of sour cream and picante sauce. No lettuce or cheese, no guacamole, and the steak didn't have the classic fajita seasonings.
I tried not be negative, but dh could tell that I wasn't really enjoying it. And then he said something that really struck me. He said that he didn't want me ordering fajitas anymore when we went out, because they always fell short of the fajitas at El Rodeo and I was always disappointed.
El Rodeo was a little Mexican restaurant in our hometown. Their food was sensational, and I have so many good memories of meals eaten there with friends and family. Some pivotal moments in my life happened in that place, full of the smells of good food and the sound of happy conversations and the cook in the kitchen, singing along with the Mexican radio station.
Some unfortunate business decisions led to the restaurant closing, and ever since then I've been on a fruitless search for a fajita that can bring me back to El Rodeo.
What I realized tonight, though, was that even when I do find that perfect fajita once again, it still won't bring back the place that I loved, with its corner booth and carnival music. That place is gone forever. The last time I visited my hometown, the former restaurant was being used as a Pilates studio. I wondered as I drove past if the diligent people excercising there ever caught a hint of freshly made tortilla chips and salsa.
I miss my home. And what's funny is, if I were home right now I'd still be missing parts of that home that no longer exist. Restaurants shut down. People move away. Relationships change, sometimes radically. Churches close their doors.
My children have already learned the lament of missing our old house, missing Grandpa and Grandma, missing their aunts and uncles. And as I tell them, so, too, I remind myself: where we live now is a good place, we'll see the people we love again, and God is on His throne.
None of these things came as a suprise to Him.
I need a good fajita recipe. By the time summer rolls around, I intend to have a killer version of my very own.