It was a success.
Wine poured into matching glasses, laps covered in cloth napkins, and a meal from scratch (except the salad dressing).
I had timed it perfectly and even found a moment for fresh flowers as the centerpiece-- which were called "very pretty" at least once.
But it seemed I was too concerned with dinner's outcome and consequently said much less than usual.
Distracted by the possibility of burning dinner for four, I ran to the kitchen when I might have preferred to stay and chat.
I joined the conversation, politely answering questions, curbing my usually foul mouth into one that wears lipstick instead.
And it was a success.
Until the empty house gave me the quiet freedom to wonder.
To wonder if they were impressed by me, or my meal.
To wonder if they thought I was someone I'm not.
A woman who just cooks. Who just spends time in the kitchen.
A woman whose contributions amount to full bellies and warm thank yous.
A woman who isn't actually me.
But the one I gave to them instead.