I’m sitting in a round booth that’s designed for a double date or for 9 girls on ladies’ night. It’s a big circle. With great lighting.

I’m on a personal retreat, one of these that is prescribed by my counselor. (She writes the **best** prescriptions.) I walked into the hotel room, and of course within 7 minutes I had scattered my things on every flat surface in the room.

Note to Tricia: Nobody else will gather these things for you when you’re ready to check out. I know ‘checkout’ isn’t on your radar right now, but it will come. And you won’t be ready for the scavenger hunt for earrings and a cell phone charger.

The hostess and I chatted a bit while she waited for my (giant) table to be cleared and prepared. She has two tattoos on her forearm, and I love to ask about such things. When a person has a tattoo that’s visible, they always have an answer ready.

(Although I don’t always have my answer ready. I hem and haw around the book of Hosea and this verse and this word and that night and a holy moment with sacred writing, and my husband died three days later. By then, I’ve said so much in Christianese that the person has lost interest all but entirely. So then I say, “It’s my own handwriting, and they’re back in the game.

My ready-explanation, from this point forward, will be this: “My tattoo? It says ‘betrothed.’ It’s a reminder that even though I am a widow, I am still a bride.” And we’ll see where it goes from there.)

On one side of her arm, she had a long, flowery key. She called it a skeleton key, and I don’t really know what that means and I didn’t feel liek I could google very inconspicuously. (Google, my ever go-to for hot topics and words everyone else seems to understand.)

(Urban dictionary can also provide this service, although I always, always end up with more information than I intended to get and thereby a startled expression on my face.)

(I’m using a lot of parentheses. My editor would have a heyday. Hay day. Heigh dey. I hate when I don’t know how to spell a word.)

I complimented her on the skeleton key, which is indeed lovely and looks not skeletal at all. Then I noticed the ink on the other side: Rule Number 32.

As we walked through the dining room, navigating around chairs in a dimly lit room, she talked over her shoulder to tell me about a movie called Zombie Land – perhaps you’ve seen it, but I live in a land of Ninja Turtles and Phineas and Pherb, so zombies have an entirely different connotation for me. Green and animated.

In the movie, there are rules for living in a zombie land. And rule #32 is: Enjoy the small things. And just then, she seated me at this great big, round table that is nearly a private room.

Here I sit, practicing the fine art of dining alone, at a table set for a party. And I’m not sad.

I’m thinking of days when it will be filled again.

And I’m enjoying the small things. (Or in this case, the great big one.)

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