It always feels different when it has been a while. The plates are set on the table. Crisp green salad. Bright tomatoes. White crab meat and coral shrimp. The Fibonacci spiraled beings started white, but once they hit that boiling water, their outsides become pink, not unlike my own flesh.
We sat for hours talking. I mostly listened. After the salad came scallops and cauliflower and then chocolate cake with a pliable fondant layer made out of marshmallows and sugar and chocolate. A layer of s’mores.
It was family. My grandma who is shrinking with time, but not crumbling under the pressure of her years. My dad yells across the table asking her about her taste for Philly Cheese Steak. She yells back telling him that she loves crab cakes. Laughter ensues.
My aunt is here for six months out of the year. Here and then her small town in Italy for the other half. We connect in our love for other places. There are people I only see when she is visiting. The big, boisterous man to my left is one of them. He knows a lot about good food and solitude. His kitty keeps him company. She is a lover and for that he loves her.
My aunt talked about friends who wanted to come over from Italy to start a Pizzeria. We discussed the possibility of their success. The economy in Italy is dwindling. She gets frustrated with our ignorance.
The boisterous man talked about his high school friend, my aunt’s friend as well. Big and bearded with a booming voice, this friend leaves an impression that will stay in the creases of your memories forever. I remember a time in this very same kitchen, when he told me about Paris. He is a story teller by trade. It is what he loves to do. His job is simply there to support his life. He made every moment he spent in that city seem fantastical and elaborate and splendid. He was still a child at heart, experiencing life with those magnifying eyes. He is sick and worried about his precious life. We worry for him. We believe he will get better, because that is all we can do.
The night eventually ends. We leave early. I am tired from a conversation that lasted the entire night before. It was with somebody new and old.
As we walk down the hall leading to the front door, passing my grandpa, his art lasting long after his body, my aunt asks if I get time off in November. It was abrupt, as though she had just decided.
“Why?” I ask.
“Do you want to come to India with me?”
“Yes! I’ll have time off in November.”
“Ok. I’ll send you the itinerary.”
“I’m coming with!” My grandma chimes in. We all laugh. My grandma has a sense about timing.
I get into my mom’s car that sounds more like a space ship, and we leave.