The Pizza That Triggered a Memory
I am seated in a pizza parlor in downtown Chicago, passing the time until my 8 PM flight back to Providence. The book I’m reading is called ‘American Gods,’ by Neil Gaiman. Reading makes me want to write, and so I think about the book I should be working on. Suddenly, a scent handcuffs itself to my neurons and is taken to a memory: I am standing before a lemon tree at my parent’s house, my grandmother next to me. Baba’s expression is frozen. I don’t see her, but rather a photograph of her; somehow the scent of lemon and childhood, however, is dynamic, alive. Now I am holding a rolling pin, helping Baba make Peroshki. Standing on my tippy-toes, my sight is filled with dough, flour…ingredients on their way to becoming food. I haven’t thought about my grandmother much since she passed away nearly a year ago. She was a difficult person and in her last years had lost her eyesight and much of her memory. Yet a tenderness stabs at me like the knife that splits open an onion, releases its piquant odor. Life is precious, cyclical, unique, linear, savage, brief, endless. She is a part of me and I of her. Just yesterday I could barely reach the table upon which we cooked. Today I tower over my food. Today my heart reaches for the slippery hands of greatness. Tomorrow, whenever tomorrow comes, I will immortalize myself in ice: everything that comprises me will drip, drip, drip until I mix and mingle with everything that comprises the universe, until enough time passes that I re-discover myself among the detritus of the world and laugh at the glorious absurdity of it all.
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