At My Sister’s House
For some reason my subconscious is full of dragons, and that’s all that seems to end up on my blog. But make no mistake, I love my life. I guess the following is closest to a journal entry.
At My Sister’s House
“Sarah’s here!” Three little voices sound off. “Sarah’s here, Sarah’s here!”
The dog comes bounding over with a smile. The kids run up to hug me, their enthusiasm just as pure.
The house is warm and comfortable. Sean keeps it clean; Jessica keeps it colorful. There is always something fragrant sauteing on the stove. On the counter are homemade pumpkin muffins, chocolate covered espresso beans, a bottle of wine.
As we cook, we make fun of her old and busted food processor. We laugh, giving it a hazing that a sentient being could not endure. She has little interest in technology; her kitchenaid mixer is the only food gadget that gets any respect. I ask her to taste my pie filling. She swipes a finger through and licks it. “More sugar,” she says. Of course she’s right.
The children pop by occasionally for hugs and samples. They’re young but these kids already know their way around a spice rack.
Friends file in. Every person brings a dish, and a story about their day. Each familiar face gives fresh warmth to my heart.
Two rules in this house: everyone gets a hug regardless of their comfort level, and they must taste everything at least once, regardless of their comfort level.
The people distract Jessica. She starts talking, gesturing, telling stories. She focuses her whole self on this, usually waving a spatula or fork instead of using it to stir. This is my time to shine: I prompt her for directions and finish up what she has started.
The craft beer and wine make everyone’s faces bright. Neighborhood kids wander through: “Did you get permission to be here? Use my phone, call your parents.” We shoo the dog out of the kitchen repeatedly, the children’s fingers must be extracted from the chocolate batter, the cat lays on the floor in the center of the chaos, unconcerned. And what a beautiful chaos it is. We laugh until we cry. “Anybody want tea?” “Is something burning?” “Come see what we drew today!”
Usually the food gets prepared and consumed at different times, but this time, every dish is ready at once. Dishes pack the table: chocolate pie, angel food cake, roast vegetables, tacos, olive cheese toast, dip, salad, bread, cajun shrimp, cheese biscuits. We stare at the spread, impressed, unsure how to begin. “Anybody religious?” Jessica quips, hoping to give this gorgeous meal a proper sendoff. I propose a toast after our family tradition: “Good health and happiness, for the rest of our lives!” People circle the kitchen island, grab random beverages so they can join in, until everyone’s glass (bottle, cup) has tapped everyone else’s.
We eat until we can’t eat anymore. We laugh until we can eat again.
We finish our food on the porch in the evening summer air. There is a cage with two hairless rats out here; they are the subject of some snuggling and much ridicule. Careful not to pet the ball python after you pet the rats.
Things are quieting down. Guests leave. Everyone gets some leftovers to take home.
Sean and the kids put on YouTube. Jessica and I linger in the kitchen, clean up a bit, talk some more, mull over the events of the day. What were the best dishes, did that thing you cooked turn out like you expected, how is homeschooling coming along? We eventually join the TV crowd and work our way underneath the warm heap of animals and children, where we comfortably enjoy the company and let the kids show us what they’re most excited about.
At some point I must reluctantly extract myself from the couch, say my goodbyes, and drive home. But the warmth lingers in my bones. Deeper, even, than that.