I stood at the stove, wooden spoon in hand, reveling in the beefy goodness saturating the air and condensing into damp whirls upon the kitchen windowpane. Nina Simone crooned from the stereo while the rosemary and sea salt bread crisping in the oven tinged the house with that hominess that I swear only comes from baking something with yeast inside of it. The chaos of the day was slipping slowly into the shadows, dinner was moments away...
"Mom, I'm starving--can I have a snack?" My fingers clench for a split second on the wooden handle and my spine stiffens. The woman who has spent two hours on her feet to produce this masterpiece of a meal is slightly offended, but a glance at the six foot two, twelve year-old lanky boy in the doorway restores my sense of humor--seriously, the boy has always been hungry. However...
"Do you know what the most important ingredient is?" I ask, my head tilted slightly, eyes shining, a smile on my lips. He sighs, he's heard this many times. Grinning back, he turns to leave with that resigned slouch of the shoulders, capitulating as gracefully as his growling stomach will allow. "Ten more minutes!" I call after him, chuckling softly to myself. My friends, do you know what the most essential ingredient is?
My mother used to tell me this as I too, hung about the kitchen, drooling over the scents escaping the blistering oven. The pots that simmered upon the stovetop, the pies cooling on the sideboard. Ahhh, the delicious joy of aching anticipation. Feeling positively hollow, it seemed as if the blessing was going to last till dawn, but then that first bite....oh, sweet heaven! Eyes closed, mouth full...utter bliss.
With this holiday season creeping closer, candy stuffed fists knocking on our doors, programs dripping gravy and cheese seeping from our television screens, hypnotic magazine pictures of the ultimate festival of cakedom strewn about our coffee tables--may we take a moment to pause. To evaluate....
How hungry are you?
I fear the truth of that question may surprise you. For if one is excruciatingly honest--for many of us, it has been years.
It's the latest diet fad, hanging about a while now--the idea that the standard "three meals a day" motif of life was actually straight from the Satanic bible. It's solely responsible for that cushy tush and those darling love handles we all seem to sport....GET THEE AWAY FROM ME, YE SPAWN OF HADES!! (ok, I am actually laughing as I type that line...) Rather you must eat six small meals spread throughout your day, peppered with "healthy snacks" and tiny treats all in the name of: "Never let yourself get hungry because you lack the self-control to not gorge until reaching the point of belt-loosening expansion." *sigh*
But I ask, have we lost more than the odd pound in this quest? We are becoming, in oh-so-many ways, such a society of the moment--waiting for anything at all, a thing of the past. On-line shopping, instant downloads, fast food, drive through restaurants (NOT to be confused with fast food, mind you) automatic-importunate-split second life. We multi-task our existence and waiting is a terribly un-vogue ritual spoken of only by those that actually know how to dial a rotary phone.
Desire and yearning. Thirst. Longing...needing....craving. The friction of a fingertip along the soft skin on inside of your elbow, the absolute most perfect Christmas gift ever found, a love letter written by hand and sprayed with scent that lingers in the mailbox for days, making you smile.....butter melting into the dips and divots of a piece of hot bread, the oven still spilling it's yeasty warmth into the kitchen behind you....each of these, made so much more splendid....
By the wait.
By the appetite.
So this year, as your life amps up into overdrive and your schedules begin to collide like planets knocked out of orbit, I challenge you. Don't snack on your way home. Don't indulge every whim--for the very definition of a whim is just a passing fancy....wait for desire.
I have a love/hate relationship with pants. Jeans, in particular, have frustrated the hell out of me for decades. Mainly because I am a woman trapped in a mad gorilla's body. (for more information on this, go here) So when I stopped in at the local Good Will and did a "drive-by" of the men's jeans isle (see, as I have a 36 inch inseam, I don't really have to look at sizes per se, I just cruise by looking at the bottoms of the legs, if there happens to be a pair dragging on the floor, I'll stop) and there was indeed one such pair--I damn near did a happy dance right there when not only the waist size was a match, but they were Rock & Revival jeans! ($158 online, $7.99 at Good Will. The world is a marvelous place)
I shimmied out to the car and grinned like a crazy Cheshire Cat the entire way home. Chucked those suckers in the wash, and pulled them on that night for a "fitting" before heading out with my husband. You know when you um...well, these are button fly, so I did all that; buckled my belt, and then what do you do? You slide your hands in your pockets, right? Gotta get all that material sleek and flat for that perfect fit. I slid my hands into my pockets....and ran smack into my undies.
I wish I could have seen my own face. I whipped them puppies down and discovered that someone had "altered" them--cut down the entire length of BOTH front pockets! WTH??? I am speechless. I am stunned. However, when I redressed and went down to stand with my back to my husband and invited him to check out my front pockets, he was quite impressed and grinning like a goof as we left for dinner.
So this is my question, so far I have one vote for this dude being a professional pocket-pooler. Any theories on this cat? Personally, I've worn them twice since (they do fit awesomely) and nearly died of mortification when I distractedly dropped a handful of coins in my pocket--only to have them roll out all over the store floor. The guy behind me at the grocery was totally confused. Seriously--what good are pants without pockets??
What the heck do I do with my keys?! Dear Lord, please don't let me slip my phone in there in mixed company....
The air smells like spring seduced late summer and drenched the night in promises. Somewhere between possibility and substance, the evening hovers. A strange shade of autumn.
But the clouds seem darker.
I nudged his knees apart as he sprawled on the creased coffee brown leather couch, remote in hand. The speckling of pin pricks over his shoulder a silent reminder of the Christmas kitten that filled my heart with joy and, years later, with grief as I buried him.
"What's up?" he murmured as I sank down, my hip fitting into the space between his. My shoulders dropped slowly towards his chest. I swear the night paused as my abdomen curled...my head dipped...
And his heartbeat became the universe.
The thud that embodies tomorrow, no matter the anxiety of today. The literal fading of 'to do' lists and apprehensions and doubt.
Thump, thump, thump...
Footsteps on the stairs, my fourteen year old son coming down for a snack before bed. I lay there, the muscular drum echoing in my ear; my hair, uncut since January, tangled about us. Footsteps retreating. Recognition of a moment that, while he may not understand, my eldest knew I needed.
Amazing...astounding what fifteen minutes surrounded by the throb of another's heart can do for the equilibrium of a soul.