Matzo Ball Soup

Specifically written for my family at my 3rd home. 8/2018.

After the Gilmore Girls “A Year in the Life” reboot on Netflix in 2016, I remember whispering to the Universe that I really wanted my very own “Luke’s Diner”….I was seriously pining for a place where I can go to eat often and have great conversation, and not even have to order anymore because they’d know what I wanted as soon as they’d see my face… and above all, a place that felt like home. Thank you Universe for giving me my wish… my 3rd home, my Luke’s Diner.

After the sacred “lighting of my soul” moment the first night of Hanukkah, going home to throw my nose into the deep roots of the internet to find out more about Judaism, I eventually started looking for all Jewish places to go to eat or things to do in the area around January 2018.

At the time of discovering my very own Luke’s Diner, I found out that it was only a mile or two down the road from my workplace: one turn off the same exact road and almost in the same exact spot when you looked at a map. How odd, right? My visits were frequent for a while until we moved further away temporarily for a few months leaving not much time to visit in between trips to/from for lunch. (Note: Luckily, my work signed a lease that brought me back much closer to my favorite place.)

At the beginning, I would mix up what I would eat between a turkey sandwich or soup, but then… fell into the forever coma of magical Matzo Ball Soup which completely changed the game for me. Why do I say that? Because I will be quite honest, I have despised all “chicken soup” ever since I was a kid. I could be sicker than a dog and still not want it, even though—supposedly—the rule is that chicken “noodle” soup is for the soul and it will heal you. Or maybe they were referring to the book series. But Matzo Ball Soup? It is the soup for the soul: good days, bad days, celebrations, anything, everything. It heals, fixes and makes my heart very happy. So that’s why I have stuck with my soup for so long. It’s not that I’m afraid to try new things, it’s just I’m satisfied, and there isn’t a problem with that, right?

I think—at this point—it’s safe to say I officially have my table, just like Lorelei and Rory Gilmore had theirs….and everyone knows what to get me as soon as they see me. It’s an awesome feeling. I have only been visiting for about six months now, but it feels like forever (a good forever)! At my table, during lunch and in between wonderful conversations: I have written out about 6 stage management plans of the plays I’ve worked since my first visit, I planned my marvelous gift idea of the “Dundie Awards” for the Summer One Act group’s cast party, I’ve plotted out goals/dreams/to-dos that need accomplished, scribbled some lyrics or poetry, scheduled my months out, and have managed to write several pages of whatever I was writing about at the time.

If I get to stay long enough, I see the interactions with their customers, and it makes me fall into a serious daydream about my very first job. Once I worked my way up to being one of the retail managers—almost owning seniority—I started to grow my list of regular customers. We would chat about what was new since the previous week that I last saw them, or do a long catch up if they had been out of town for a while. And, there probably wasn’t a day that went by without me writing down something funny that happened for my future stories (and boy, do I have stories!). But—the fact of the matter is—that was the only job where I ever had that long of a list of customers that “belonged” to me and the last time it was ever “that” special (small town, small store, same people).

On the evenings when I was the closing manager, there was this elderly Jewish couple that always managed to come in at the very last minute. Both were just as sweet as pie, and the wife wanted her husband to find shoes. They were always looking for shoes. I don’t remember much about them, and barely remember what they looked like, but I have this false hope that some day I will run into them again—even though I live in a completely different place—and it’s been over 13 years now. I’m not even sure why my memory is still calling out to them after that long. Although—needless to say—there’s been constant reminder through some of the plays I’ve worked with that talk or sing about shoes. So there’s that.

When I was doing my research and looking at their website, I discovered that they started in Gulfport… which is the place that I fell so completely in love with enough to call it my adult hometown. There’s just something so wonderful about a story behind why a small family business is started, how it survives through the years of whatever may happen in the economy, community, changes or staff and everything else in between. Even though I’ve never had the opportunity (yet) to work in the restaurant/grocery business, it does run in my family. My Grandma Applegate—my closest & last grandparent who died when I was 16—owned and ran “Lucky Stop Restaurant” in downtown Maysville, KY during the 1950s. I don’t know much about those days, but I can only imagine her restaurant was just as embracing and welcoming with the feeling of visiting with family when each friend or stranger came in to eat.

I am such a firm believer in ‘things happening for a reason’ and I truly believe with all of my heart and soul that I was supposed to find my favorite place and meet the family behind it. It’s scary to think about the major what ifs: had I not walked to the park that one day to see the first Menorah Candle being lit, I would have never had my moment which in return would’ve kept me from doing my research… finding all the things…wanting to learn about Judaism…that path that led me to finding family at what I call my 3rd home….and so on. 2018 has been life, and—for once in my (at the time) 31 years—that was the first time I ever started truly living the life I know I was supposed to have, growing into the understanding of who I am, and what roles I’m destined to fulfill in this crazy world. I feel like all things good—that will be an almost permanent thing for the remainder of my life—has began in 2018. Judaism has it right: 18 = life. So true that it’s poetry.

I celebrated my 32nd birthday lunch with them and they made it magical. I almost felt like a Queen—all I was missing was a crown with glitter on it! But seriously, there was certainly no other place I would have rather have been than there. Like I mentioned before, I feel as if it’s been a lot longer than six months since I found my favorite place… it feels like a good forever. And, from day one, I have felt right at home. There’s a story about that home that runs as deep as the threads on the spine that holds a book together… and all of the pages… filled with memories and memories…and I only hope to be able to some day give back to what they’ve given to me…and here’s to the future, many more bowls of Matzo Ball Soup, plans being written and conversations to be had.