In anticipation for this project I reached out to two friends about a week and a half prior to the date I had in mind in hopes that one would host and both would participate. Bailey agreed to host and bring her cousins fiancé, Whitnie, who I didn’t know and Kalie agreed to bring two friends I didn’t know. I was going to bring my boyfriend Gage to the dinner since neither Kalie nor Bailey knew him that well. Monday before my Kentucky Kitchen Table was planned, Kalie called me to say she wasn’t able to attend anymore. I reached out to another friend, Jaley, to see if she was available for the 5th and she said she would check and get back to me. On Tuesday, she let me know she couldn’t attend. At this point I started to get a bit stressed. After debating over who to ask next, I decided to add some “diversity” to my group by asking a former high school teacher of mine, Mr. Grubbs, to attend. I texted him and explained what KKT was and he agreed to come and to bring his brother who I hadn’t met, IF he didn’t get tickets to the UK football game on Saturday. I agreed to his conditions and carried on with the planning. I decided on Thursday that in the of case Mr. Grubbs was able to get tickets, I would ask another friend of mine, Zach, to participate. He luckily had an open spot in his schedule and would be able to come. On Friday, Bailey and I had worked out the menu. I would make a lasagna and bring a cheesecake, she would have a salad and rolls made, and Gage would make a peanut butter pie. Mr. Grubbs had contacted me to let me know he wasn’t able to secure football tickets and so he would be able to attend. Going to bed that night I felt really good about how smoothly tomorrow was going to go.
Boy, was I wrong.
I woke up to a text from Zach explaining that his parents were making him volunteer at something at his church that weekend and how he had done his very best to get out of it, but they were making him go. I understood and told him it wasn’t a biggie. (Later that evening I saw pictures of him canoeing with friends, but that’s none of my business.) Now I wasn’t worried about replacing him because we already had enough people as it was. Fast forward to about 5 that evening. Gage and I had arrived at Bailey’s about an hour prior. The lasagna was in the oven and we were just sitting around chatting. I had Bailey text Mr. Grubbs to remind him of the time to be here. He still had an hour, given I had planned for it to start at 6, but I thought a friendly reminder wouldn’t do any harm. He replied about 10 minutes later explain how he was in Lexington waiting to pick up his wife from the airport. Lexington is about 90 minutes away from Somerset and her flight hadn’t even landed yet. My stress went from around a normal 3 to an extreme panic 10. Bailey told him not to worry about coming since he would probably be about 2 hours late. Gage, Bailey, and myself began desperately scrolling through our contact list to find someone who might possibly not have plans in 30 minutes. We called around 10 people before Bailey landed on her friend Andrea.
Andrea is a nice girl and I know her some just from going to school with her for a few years. Andrea was happy to attend the dinner, but there was one thing holding her back: She was on a date. Thankfully, she was able to convince her date, Josh, to take a detour to Bailey’s before they finished there evening at a friend’s bonfire. (Spoiler Alert: Andrea told her date the next day she had more fun at my dinner than any part of their date.) Once
Whitnie, Andrea, and Josh arrived we all sat down at the table for dinner. I felt a wave of relief wash over me as I looked around at all the faces I knew, kinda knew, and were strangers. I began the night by explaining what the purpose of the dinner was and what Citizen and Self was. Everyone eagerly participated in all conversations. I think my favorite discussion we had was about what eating with our families were like growing up versus now. Whitnie, for example, talked about how they would always have nightly dinners which she dreaded years ago, but now that they no longer had them she really yearned for that kind of connection again. While Josh, still had nightly family dinners and even occasionally would have neighbors over to eat with them. Although racially we were not a diverse group and the age difference ended up being around 5 years, there was a big diversity in the social class which was evident when we discussed the question about jobs and working. I won’t be specific but, some people talked how they never saw how having a job through school has a necessity, but more of a hobby. To juxtapose, a few people at the table explained how a job was expected of them and how it was not only their contribution to society, but to their family.
Overall, I really enjoyed having dinner with a group of people who didn’t necessarily match up or connect in every way. I learned a lot about everyone and had a fun time being with people in such an unconventional way. If it hadn’t been for Kentucky Kitchen Table, I can guarantee this group would have never shared a meal together. Honestly, I learned more than just about this small groups view on citizenship and the values they hold. I learned not to always trust people will be there even when you ask and they agree. Not only that, but over planning is always a good idea. Despite the craziness that occurred leading up to the meal, I would definitely do this again, but hopefully with more reliable friends.