La Lonchera by Roxane Gay


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La Lonchera by Roxane Gay


After the lunch rush, we're sitting on one of the long wooden benches we set out in front of our lonchera every day. We're both covered in sweat and grease. Nick's long legs are stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankles. His hands are stuffed in his pockets. I'm sitting next to him, eating a flatbread sandwich with avocado, buffalo mozzarella, red onions and Roma tomato. Nick asks for a bite even though he knows I hate sharing food. I try to stuff as much of the sandwich as I can into my mouth before handing him the rest of the sandwich. There is such a thing as too much togetherness.
     When I look at my husband's eyes, which protrude slightly from their sockets, I often imagine what it would be like to remove them carefully with a spoon, popping them free and then tugging on the fibrous bundles of the optic nerves. I wonder about the firmness of his eyes, how they would feel, drying in the palm of my hand. Sometimes, when he's sleeping and I am not, which is often because I don't sleep much, I press my fingers to his eyelids and smile as his eyeballs gently recede into their sockets then rebound.
     We work in a lunch truck, a lonchera. We are within two feet of one another for more than eight hours a day. I blame this proximity for my constant desire to remove my husband's eyes.
     We are both trained chefs. We got tired of working in restaurants under asshole chefs and didn't have enough money to open our own place so after a long hot night on the line, Nick came into our bedroom holding a brochure high over his head. He said, "We're going to become part of the mobile food industry."
     That was three years ago. We bought a gorgeous Airstream trailer from my father, had a small industrial kitchen installed as well as a service window. In the morning and afternoon, we make the rounds of the local university, a few office buildings and construction sites. At night we cater parties and weddings and special events for people who think it's kitschy to send guests to the curb for upscale food from a lunch truck.
     Some mornings, as we start our food prep for the day and my eyes are watering from slicing onions and garlic, I am faced with the discomfort of working in the same trailer I used to hate while on family vacations when I was wedged between my two sisters on one side of the tiny kitchen bench playing cards with my two brothers on the other side, the entire place reeking of socks, cheerios and orange soda, a circumstance where again, there was such a thing as too much togetherness.

Roxane Gay's writing appears or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, McSweeney's (online), Annalemma, Gargoyle, Hobart and others. She is the co-editor of PANK and can be found online at