I’m visiting my sweet sweet cousins next week for the first time in about five years. I’ve been missing all of my extended family so much lately, and I can’t wait.
I used to bake bread with my grandmother; she measured, I poured, and together we mixed. Have you ever smelled fresh dough? It’s yeasty, moist and thick like a summer afternoon after a sunshower. The weight of that scent filled her kitchen— the heat waves from the preheating oven, the yellowing dough mixing with her hairspray and laundry detergent. Some days, like today, I want nothing more than to live in that smell. I want to fold it around my body like a sheet fresh out of the dryer. I want to wrap it around my head so the warmth of those moments fills my eyes, mouth, ears. I want to carpet my nose with its fibers, wallpaper my lungs with its pattern. Some days, like today, I just need to feel those ABIGAILYOUAREWONDERFULs that filled her kitchen.
We have a home video of me standing in front my grandmother’s oven holding a loaf of fresh bread. I’m three and half years old, wearing a bright red turtleneck, and my bangs are cut in a perfect line across my forehead. My grandmother is sitting on a stool beside me, smiling as I talk non-stop about my bread and my cousins. I laugh and jump around with the loaf, my eyes never leaving the camera lens, hers never leaving my face. Some days, like today, I wish I could take her eyes and pop them into everyone else’s empty sockets. I don’t care if they’ll be seeing me through rose colored glasses or nerves with biased impulses. I just need them to believe.
Some days, like today, the distance between me and the ones I love is too much to handle. The miles are pregnant with wasted minutes; time that should be spent together is spent missing. My arms are open and exposed. My palms, ready.
What I’m saying is: every time I bake bread alone it turns out tough. What I’m saying is: I want to be warm.