I remember one time my mom and her sister got in a terrible fight and I spent most of the night sitting in a dark bathroom with my mom.
Or the time my friend came to visit my freshman year of college and we ate taco salad and watched movies on a deserted college campus.
And of course I've had many a normal, non-eventful, typical low-rent Rockwellian Thanksgivings, too including one spent in Lake Havasu in a campground.
But by far, my favorite Thanksgiving was the first adult one I spent away from home, my junior year of college. Three holiday orphans, me from Montana, RO from Utah, and RF from Hawaii. By junior year, we'd learned that none of us could really afford to go home for the holidays, no matter how many credit cards we had.
RF, RO and I decided to cook the full shabang at RF's apartment. His roommate was off at his family's, something we were grateful for since this was shortly after RF accidently ran said roommate's swiss army knife through the garbage disposal. Something that was apparently unforgivable, even when an accident. And thus earning the moniker "The Angry Boy Scout.". It was shortly after this that RF secretly moved into an all girl's apartment on campus to escape the tension.
But that day we were all alone, just the three of us trying to cobble together a full dinner using the hodgepodge of pots and pans of us three, poor, college students.Our plan was to cook and hang out all day, maybe watch a movie or something.
I arrived in the early afternoon to an already overly warm apartment, RF gleefully basting the turkey with a stick of butter.
"This is going to be the best turkey ever," he said. I nodded in agreement because that's what best friends do even though they secretly believe that while everyone hopes their turkey is the best ever, it rarely is. Turkey is, well, turkey. And there is not much you can do to fuck it up save burning it to a crisp or not cooking it enough.
RO arrived shortly thereafter. She lived close by, a lucky single in a double apartment with a secret cat that I gave her for her birthday. In retrospect, years and years later, giving a college student in college housing a cat for her birthday is probably an example of the poorest judgment I've ever used.
We were in the midst of cooking when RO announced that while in the parking lot she ran into a girl who was here alone and was it okay to invite her to dinner?
We all agreed that seemed fine and RO went off to confirm the invite. What none of us were willing to admit is that we didn't have any idea what her name was. Sure she lived a few doors down from RF and in the same bank of apartments as the two of them. Sure we saw her at the Delta Psi Delta house at almost every party. But her name? That we didn't know.
While we were stirring and chopping and basting, I said to RF "What is her name again?" He lifted his shoulders and shook his head.
And then when our Thanksgiving guest arrived at the door to join us, it became obvious that we should know each other. No introductions were made. Linfield had about 1500 students when I attended but it was a small campus and had a very small town vibe, like we should all know each other. And of course we ran in tangential circles that overlapped at frat parties or in passing at the Catalyst.
Our guest sat with us for several hours, gossiping about some concert or football game on TV and other random Linfield and McMinnville things. The entire time, the three of us were tense with the guilt that we had no idea what her name was. Every time I went into the kitchen, RF and I had to smother our giggles as we tried to whisper names back and forth.
At one point, as dinner was nearing completion, RO came into the kitchen. "Do you remember her name?" she whispered. I shook my head no.
"I think it might be Sarah," RO said. I shook my head. I wasn't sure either but she didn't look like a Sarah. She seemed more exotic than a Sarah.
We whispered back and forth trying to furtively figure out just who was sitting in the living room.
Finally RO said "Hey Sarah, dinner's done." And then a few seconds later she responded "Okay!" And came into the kitchen.
We dished up our grub and headed to the living room. I wanted to talk more to "Sarah" because I felt like I could figure out her name if she would talk more about the people she hung out with whose names I did know. But no matter how much she talked, I just couldn't pull her name from the tip of my tongue.
And I had more important things on my mind. Like the slices of turkey that were melting in my mouth like pieces of sashimi.
"Oh my god RF! This turkey is fucking delicious. What did you do with it?"
"Not much. Just basted it."
"Like every half hour or so."
"It's so good."
"I used five sticks of butter."
This will forever be known as that Thanksgiving when we ate with a stranger and RF tried to give us a heart attack.
Dinner was done and followed shortly thereafter by pie. And a Britney Spears concert on DVD. Because that
The night went on and finally after five excruciatingly awkward hours, "Sarah" left.
As soon as she went home we all exhaled loudly.
"Her name was so not Sarah." I said. But we couldn't think of a suitable alternative.
"Where's your Lindex?" I asked RF.
The Lindex was a spiral bound directory of all the students and departments at Linfield. It also listed the hometown of every student.
And like every good Nancy-Drew-reading-Encyclopedia-Brown-loving girl, I knew something important about fake Sarah. I knew she was from
So as Britney shimmied and shook on the TV in the background, I went though the Lindex page by page until I found our mystery guest's name.
Her name was not Sarah. To this day, I can't for the life of me remember what it might be. I forgot. As terrible as this sounds, it doesn't really matter.
Aside from this day, I only have one other memory of her and that involves stumbling into her after too many beers at the Delta house, finding her and her friend knitting in one of the rooms while loud music made the walls shake and the sounds of partying college students could be heard from every nook and cranny.
My hope is that she has the opposite side of this story to tell her friends and family, about that one Thanksgiving she stayed on campus and ate dinner with three junior assholes who kept calling her Sarah.