About a month ago, on Father's Day in fact, my brother's former mission companion came to our house for Sunday dinner. After the meal, while we sat around chatting, he mentioned to my brother that he could not remember the last time he went to a house where water was all that was offered. He wasn't saying this to imply a lack of hospitality. Rather, it was genuine shock at the plainness of our beverage options. He is more accustomed to soda or juice being on hand for the biggest meal of the day.
Of course, growing up in my household water was what we had period. Even now, when I go out to dinner, I always hesitate a long, long time before ordering a drink. A couple of years ago, when I was working a real person job, I became somewhat more profligate in my tastes and would regularly order a soda with the many, many lunches I went out for. But I've fallen out of that habit once again and now am once again the “just water for me, thanks” type for everything. It's not merely my cheapness, though, at work here. I genuinely prefer water, a fact that stumps some people, I suppose.
I had been thinking about the soda situation in my family recently also, as I order a ginger ale (no ice) on my plane ride home to Utah. This option was born not a little from nostalgia for traveling with my parents. Though we may have not spent money on soft drinks, my parents have invested a not-so small fortune in the pursuit of regular trips. The regularity of these jaunts have instilled in me a constant itch to travel, despite how weary the actual traveling makes me. For a large number of these trips, we flew as a family. On these plane trips near and far, I observed my parents' standard drink orders. Since my parents are Mormon and water was all that flowed in our home, it was a rare occurrence to see them order anything else. But, the soda and juice is included with airfare, so they let loose.
My dad's drink of choice was always “ginger ale, no ice”. Getting onto a plane still brings to mind the distinctive flavor of that soda pop. I was distressingly old when I realized that ginger ale was a thing available outside of the fuselage of a 747. I'm not sure what the no ice had to do with, though I would guess it has to do with my dad's dislike of super cold drinks and a way to game the system (no ice means a lot, lot more soda in your cup).
My mom's standard order was “tomato juice and water”. The water was to thin out the juice a little bit. Have you had tomato juice? It's a strange, almost mealy drink. The water really does help. As a kid, I ordered the same a few times, figuring she must know what's good, right? I was wrong (and somehow managed to forget this between orders). Tomato juice is neither refreshing nor particularly delicious. Or wasn't. I now occasionally am struck with cravings for it, my body probably aching for some nutrient tomatoes are notoriously rich in. But, ordering this was also built around the idea of limited options. The two adults in my life ordered precisely the same every time. Maybe that's all there is? The same thing could be said about trips to the Old Spaghetti Factory as a kid. The meals there include a salad. For years and years, I got the salad with blue cheese dressing, since that's what the whole family did. I loathed blue cheese*. But, that's what was ordered and that's what I ate. Not knowing there was a choice is probably a fundamental problem for me, as I'm more keen to be part of the pattern than an outlier.
But, really, I share this story not to point out the potentially oddity of these choices. Rather, the fact that getting on a plane stirs these memories so strongly highlights the way nostalgia haunts me at every turn. It's not that the world is short on new experiences, or that I'm debilitated by homesickness regularly. It's just that I take such comfort in the unchanging memories like these. There's nothing so nice as knowing someone so well that you know what they're going to order for complimentary beverage service. Which is all to say, I'm not so much a passionate romantic as I am a cozy habitualist. And so, if you're curious, I'm a water man even on planes these days. And, I'll always forget to say no ice and then curse myself for it. Next time we travel together, remind me request the room temperature agua, ok?
*I've since seen the light and love a pungent blue.