We had been running around all day, getting things done, taking care of business. After a very full day, we were done in – and Billy and I still had yet to eat dinner. We had fed the little guy earlier knowing our day was going to be nuts, but it was 8:30 pm and we still needed to eat. Neither of us felt like fast food, but we also didn’t feel like making an actual dinner. As usual, we went to our fallback – scrambled eggs. Billy cracked the eggs into the frying pan, while I assembled the tortillas, warming them up. This was a place we had been before – many times, in fact. The pitch black sky outside, the slight chill in the house, the quiet as we worked side by side, making our humble dinner together.
Our son spent 6 weeks in the NICU after he was born. I would get there early in the morning, Billy would join me after work, and we would stay until the nurses told us to please go home and get some rest. Our hospital didn’t allow parents to sleep near the isolettes and their children, which tore at my heart, so we needed to leave if we were going to sleep. We would get home around 9 or 9:30, and every single night for 6 weeks, Billy and I ate scrambled eggs for dinner. At the time, we were just feeding our bodies to keep going. 45 days of scrambled eggs on tortillas, with a sprinkling of cheese.
My whole self remembered this as clearly as if it were happening all over again, when we made that dinner the other night. A late dinner, working quietly together – but this time our son slept just a few feet away in his bedroom. A world of difference, this time.
It’s funny how clearly a meal can bring back a memory. Proust had his madeleines. We all have our madeleines, really. Tea is another instant time machine. Hot black tea, with a splash of milk and a tsp of sugar. Aromatic, sweet, comforting as the mug warms your hands. The sound of the kettle whistling on the stovetop, the clink of the spoon as it hits the side of the mug when I use it to stir, that in itself is like a warm blanket. This is the drink of my family. As a Scottish-Irish family, we drink a lot of tea. I am pretty sure I had my first “sip” when I was little, around 3, which was mostly milk, less tea. We are a family of tea drinkers. My husband believes we have no feeling in our mouths, as we can start drinking it immediately, no cooling time needed. When we are blue, troubled, worried, angry, sick, celebrating, we can sit down and have a cup of tea. I remember being little, and getting sick and my mom making me tea and toast. Coming in from playing in the snow and having tea. Spending the night at my grandma’s or my aunt’s, and in the morning, splitting a pot of tea. Spilling our woes or our successes over tea. “Would you like a cup of tea?” might be the most uttered question in our family. We end holiday celebrations, usually all quietly sitting around drinking our tea, and talking. I drink tea as I read, as I relax, when I do homework. I have it with breakfast, in the evening, with dessert, with toast, or on its own. It is a constant companion, and has been my whole life. I remember one time I got into an argument with my husband before I was married, and my mother came up to us, and very sweetly said, “Let’s all go have a cup of tea”, because in our family, this is how we solve problems. With tea.
Rice pudding reminds me of steamy kitchens in the middle of winter. Coconut tarts and empire biscuits transport me to all the Christmas days of my life. And now, scrambled eggs will forever remind me of those first 45 days of my child’s life, when my husband and I bedraggled, weary, worried, ate scrambled eggs together every night.
What about you? Is there something that resonates with you?