Monday, January 20, 2014

Perfectly Lumpy

It's another cold winter morning in the Northeast, with more snow predicted!  That's fine by me.  I can handle one more wintery blast, although my toes would argue.  They are in their own permafrost.  We came across an old baby calendar a few weeks ago, mixed in somehow with the Christmas decorations, and I had written down funny things the kids said.  According to the calendar, Jay called it "Snow Bites" instead of frost bite.  That's how I feel, snowbites, on my toes.  All the time.

Anyway, my surefire cure-all for snowbites is Cream of Wheat, that childhood comfort food like no other.  Morning, afternoon snack, or dinner, Cream of Wheat is so good.  Butter, honey, sugar, whatever.  The funny thing is that this is one of the few things I had in common with my brother.  He and I were very different in lots of ways, but Cream of Wheat was one of our strongest bonding points.  No one else in our family really liked it all that much, and if they did, they liked it Creamy.  Austin and I liked it Lumpy.  And I could make it Perfectly Lumpy.  I remember standing in our kitchen on the orange yellow linoleum tile and Austin requesting that I make it, not mom.  I felt so honored and so good, so expert at something.  So I did.  I made Perfectly Lumpy Cream of Wheat.  This is one of our stories.  The thing is, I can't remember all the details.  Did I make it a lot?  Was it just once?  Memories play tricks on us.  I want to know how old we were.  Was it on our way to school?  Was it on a snow day?  Why did he like mine best?  Did anyone else eat with us?  In my memory it was just the two of us, sitting in the kitchen with our steaming bowls and all the accoutrements.  Maybe watching snow fall, maybe it was a Two-Hour Delay.  Maybe it was after we shoveled outside.  I don't know.  There are lumps in my memories.  I wish I could ask him.  Wish I could go back and laugh about it with him.  Wish I could make it for him again.  I enjoy making it for my two boys; the others don't like it.  Jay and Charlie like it Lumpy just like we did.  I want to tell them, Remember this.  Remember every detail about it.  Remember our old white tile kitchen floor and the curtains and the crooked table that the bowls slide off if you're not careful.  Remember that you are talking hockey again and it is just the two of you and the others are off getting ready somewhere.  Remember that your homework is one the table and you have your orange pajamas and one sock on.  Someday these memories, these stories will bring you back to a moment that you will treasure, a nugget of gold in an otherwise crazy life.  The thing is, growing up together, it's not just that you know each other's stories, you are each other's stories.

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