Kitchen Meditations

I’m standing in the kitchen while 50% of the family is asleep, a mere 27 seconds away from a sharp reminder of life’s fragility, its uncertainty, its tendency towards chaos. Wrapped in the downy blue gown my grandmother gave me last Christmas, I am in the middle of my nightly hunt for sustenance to keep me from waking at 3 am to a complaining stomach. Eating so close to bedtime is a terrible habit, I know, the root cause of many a troubling dream, but there is something immensely soothing about routine, especially when the rest of the world is safely tucked in bed while I stubbornly trundle along my rails, completing my usual circuit of activity before giving in to sleep.

 

My feet are bare but still warm from the residual heat of the shower, stubbornly resisting the creeping cold of the kitchen tile. In the next room, my brother is watching an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, the volume at a murmur, his laughter and the unmistakable scent of popcorn wafting through the doorway.

Having completed my evening catalogue of the cupboards without falling in love with any of the partially-empty boxes and crumpled bags, my roving hands turn towards the refrigerator, grasping the awkwardly-edged handle and heaving it open. The seal yields with a puckered hiss, releasing a cloud of cold air. With one hand, I clutch my bathrobe tighter, snuggling into it, less a tired twenty-six-year-old and more a penguin buffeted by Antarctic winds.

Cheese is no good. I know all too well its devilish effects upon the dreamer. Six oranges, bright as traffic cones, huddle together in their red mesh bag, contentedly rotund. On the lower shelf skulks a half-devoured pie, peanut butter cream avalanching off the crust and onto the shining aluminum plate. For one breathless second, I contemplate turning around and raiding the bread bin instead, but fate, that cruel mistress, seizes my hand, and I pluck a single tawny egg from an open Tupperware container. I cradle it in my fingers, unaware of how close I am to disaster.

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has always placed her hard-boiled eggs in a Tupperware container, separating them from their raw comrades and eliminating any disastrous confusion. Trusting in this law, as cemented in my mind as the laws of physics, I carry the egg the two steps to the kitchen counter. Overhead, the kitchen light gleams golden, casting a pale glow over the cream-colored surface. Safe in my soft robe and my familiar pajamas, insulated by electric light from the winter night that scrapes its paws against the frozen windowpane, everything is as warm and cheery as a fifties advertisement for matrimony.

Placing all my faith in one Tupperware container and my grandmother’s wisdom, I begin to roll the egg beneath my palm, expecting to feel the soft crack of its shell flaking away to liberate the smooth, alabaster skin underneath. Instead, I feel the icy touch of the yolk oozing up between my fingers, and I am reminded once again that nothing in life is certain, not even hard-boiled eggs.

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