“That table of food gave Millie the strength she needed. She took her babies out from under Leroy and never went back”
Finally watching The Help. My eyes were still flowing with tears when one of the many scenes of redemption, resolution and resurrection slowly moved over plates of black eyed peas, ham, fried chicken and little coins of carrot slices. My fingers slipping beneath the frames of my glasses, wiping away the streams that were left from the scene before, as I watched a woman that was abused by her husband, her employers, the year she was born, where she was born and by race, seated before a feast that was created for her by a woman that had been forever changed and learned from her. The power of it all, so familiar when presented in the context of a dinner table.
“Can you make your tri-tip when I’m home?” a text from my very own baby. His mind starting to think of actually coming home, all the smells, sounds and tastes that mean home to him. I fired off an, “Absolutely!” text in return and have found myself making a mental shopping list of all the things I need to fill Jeremy with while he’s here, close enough to smell, hear and taste. That momma feeding thing has far less to do with us being worried that our kids aren’t getting enough to eat than it has to do with us needing to feed them…stuff them with as many memories of home as we can. I used to be alarmed at the amount of food my husband would consume while visiting his parents but now, now I know…they are both, her through the cooking and him through the eating, visiting with one another in the most intimate and primal of levels. Just as Jeremy can’t climb on my lap, snuggle into my chest and twist my hair through his fingers like he used to, my husband’s lap time is now delivered with a stab of his fork, the toothsome pull of pasta, the sweet kiss of his mother’s tomato sauce.
“I’ve never been more proud of you than I am right now” the line in the movie that killed me and had me on the brink of sobbing before those black eyed peas. A mother that had struggled with her daughter’s differentness…. fought and made awful, hurtful comments in an effort to “fix” her “broken” girl, finally swallowing all her wished for desires and seeing her daughter for the woman she has become. Tears. I was reduced to tears and as fucked up and blurred as my upbringing was, I, to this day, appreciate and long for that kind of affirmation. I’m forty fucking years old and still, still I find myself seeking that lap to nuzzle into. A late night snuggle, the twist of hair between my fingers, the pull of perfectly cooked pasta. Not something that plagues me often but definitely leaves a mark when it comes and it seems, that much like Millie, there is a place for me to go. A place where I don’t need to hear the words or feel the lap beneath me. A place to quiet the noise of my day, of my week and at times, of my life.
The sound of my knife hitting the thick block of wood as cauliflower florets tumble, the hiss of a cool pan as I rest it upon the screaming hot rack in my oven, the industrial sound of metal on metal as my whisk combines melted butter and dry flour, the sweet smell the second the flour has given itself over and knowing that now is the time to slowly add my mixture of warm milk and chicken stock. Watching the light brown paste become thick, milky white, creamy enough to coat my feverishly moving whisk, growing thicker with each handful of shredded Fontina and filling my house with the richest most decadent aromas…filling my heart with pride once presented poured over crispy, deeply roasted, fork tender cauliflower or golden brown hunks of pan roasted potatoes….
Been spending lots of time in my kitchen as of late. Just there alone, my thoughts and feelings put on hold as I build, create and pour my wishes into the food for my table. I may never get to hear my parents say, “I’ve never been more proud of you” but that, “Can you make your tri-tip when I’m home?” feels like what I would suspect hearing those words would. Knowing that in just a couple weeks my son will be home, sitting before many a wish filled, familiar plate of my food I can finally say…..much like Minnie, I’m very proud of myself.
Counting the days.....