Tonight I've been reading Elizabeth Berg's new book. I've been laughing out loud and my fingers have been twitching to grab a pencil. At one point the narrator said she'd try to write a stream of consciousness list. My fingers began to do more than twitch. They were tingling. Time to write. So, I closed my eyes, opened the book to a page in the middle, pointed, and opened my eyes. The word was "taste". What follows is what I wrote.
Taste. Even now I can taste that loaf of bread in Colonial Williamsburg, still warm, passing from the baker's hands to my fathers, from his to mine... the taste of it with that odd soft, pale yellow cheese... how both made a perfect mouthful... the exultant feeling that this was dinner... how odd... how wonderful... how exquisite that we were, all four of us, having an adventure. That all four of us were on this adventure together, instead of having the separate ones we usually had as we went off to school, to work, to... what kind of adventures did Mom have being at home all day? I think I assumed that she just sat around bored, waiting for me to get home from my own adventures, so that she could hear all about them and start living again... of course, that's what she lived for - me... and tangentially my brother and father. Oh, the arrogance of children.
Back to taste... That meal of bread and cheese, one of the most perfect meals in a lifetime of eating. Simple bread and cheese. You know? I can still taste it. Was it so delicious because we touched the hands that prepared it? Or because we ate it standing up, walking around, looking at things from such a long time ago? Or, was it so delicious because it was so out of the ordinary?
Normally we were a family who sat down together at 5:30 for dinner. If the phone rang, Dad would answer it and inform the caller that it was dinner time and that was family time. Back then, family dinner seemed so normal. Now, I realize what a gift it was.
I had a family that sat together, ate together, talked together, enjoyed a meal together. Every night. Every single night, with very few exceptions. How marvelous is that? Family dinnertime. Something so commonplace. And, anymore, profound. If Dad had a meeting that evening, he would make the long drive back home in time for dinner, and turn right around and head back to church; to work. Neither Mom or Dad ever said it, but family dinnertime was sacred.
Family meals. That's a bit of the precious ordinary. Isn't it? Mom cooks the meal, one child sets the table, the other cleans up after. Family of four sits down together, holds hands, blesses the food... Eats, talks, shares, is just... together. I guess that's it. That's what makes it so profound. We were together. Not only in the same place physically, but in the same place mentally. No one was rushing to get to a ballgame, or practice, or work. No one had a TV show they didn't want to miss. No one was shut off from the family with music playing only for their ears. We were all together. Together.
Oh, what precious ordinary.
The photograph of Colonial Williamburg was taken by Foto Blitz Color. It is a scene very much like ones that I remember from our walk in Colonial Williamsburg. SOOJ is a term I came up with. It means, straight out of the journal. I keep a paper journal - have for years. SOOJ posts are unedited reprints of a journal entry.
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