bread of life. + a spell.

My sister told me that when my parents were finally able to afford their own house, somewhere in the mid 1960s- and all 7 of them {with one on the way} moved out of the upstairs apartment of Grandma Salvatrice's Prospect St. house and into their very own home at 345 South Main Street, they would still have to walk by Grandma’s house to get home from school. Before, when they lived with her, for years, every day after school they would come home and she'd have bread baking for them. Ready for them. 

After we moved. We would hide. We knew she had baked bread and would want us to come visit her. But I was getting 'too cool' for that and when we'd walk home I'd rush by her house hoping she wouldn’t see me… I feel bad about it now. But I would literally hide and walk across the street. I just didn't want to hang out with my grandma.

I will have to admitt. I was pissed at her, well not her now, but her teen self. That had a grandma. That had grandma's bread. That had that history, that living wisdom of my own father. Where he came from.  Who stood up for him incessantly. Who yelled. Who loved. Who had a big belly. And undo hair. And nylon hose.  I had none of those things. 

I have some things. Her cheek bones. Her deep set eyes. Her entire face mostly. And perhaps some of the hot blood. And some of the feelings. That might not even be my own. But that live in me. As her.

And her ghost. That I can’t seem to get rid of.

And her ghost. That makes me bake bread. Alot.

I wonder if my grandmother's bread was filled with every emotion she carried. If her fears and her anger and her unconditional, ungrippable love was in each and every crack of dough. I wonder if her slightly crazy was held in each air bubble. I wonder if her rebel was infused in the crust. I wonder if she day dreamed about her lost daughters. Or prayed for her lost sons. I wonder if she thought of home. And what it would have been. I wonder what it would taste like. If I could just have one bite of her bread. 

It's 80 degrees today and I am baking bread. Because I cannot think of another thing to do. We all need to eat the stories. Some way or another.They need to be digested. And passed around the table. Food is truth.

I found out today that I didn’t get the artist grant I was hoping to get to send me to her dirt and find her and find her mother. And write a book about her. About grandmothers. And daughters. About being a daughter. About being a mother. About the portals of existence. Of coming from women. About seeking something, anything, that ties us to humanity. Blood. Bones. Songs. Reminders we had power, we had voices, that we had ways. That we had bread.  Stories in food and dirt. If I look back on my roots-  I feel this combination of extreme bravery and extreme stress and fear.  I feel anxiety and magic. I feel a strong sense of silence. I feel something that was undone and unfinished.  I feel women who had to endure the between story, for me, for my daughters. I feel like before the between story there was something else. Something other than poverty and pain and fleeing. Something I have forgetting to tap into. I also know there is no before, no after, there is just now. And this is my now. Living it all at once, no past or future, just all of us, within my blood, my cells, my DNA.

Who are we without a full past within us, without long, deep roots. Who are we if we do not know we had blood of rivers and flesh of mountains. Who are we if we don’t understand that we come from those who were not afraid to be strong, to be soft, to create, to walk with no shoes for miles in prayer and grace to build temples for the future and to let go of our daughters in ceremony and rites. Who are we without those temples. Without those ceremonies. Without knowing our rites. 

I don’t know. And I do know. Because there is nothing seperate. There are no lines in time. Just an undying curiosity of a life. Of a place. Of a time that doesn’t even exist except for in a fictional memory. And in this ghost. The one that will not leave me alone. She is asking me. To remember when there were no pictures or documents or names known. She is asking me. Telling me. Something. I am listening.

I didn’t get the grant. I was mad. All day long. Sad. Cried. I baked bread. The first loaf was filled with my anger. It did not rise well. It was dense and too sweet and fell apart and the girls ate it with smashed beans and butter on it to get it down. They were nice and said it was good but they know my bread is usually better. I could see both their kindness and lying in their face. By the time I made the dough for the second loaf - which is still rising- 14 hours later, the anger was gone. There is always that. It always leaves. Mostly. And something else rises.

I wonder if she had to make a lot of loaves of bread, too. Because some didn’t rise. Because she was all alone. So far away. Too many kids. Her skin imprinted by someone else anger and decisions. Widowed by the time she was 40. But who was she before all that. And who was her mother. And her mother’s mother. And her mother’s mother. And her mother’s mother.

And who am I. Now. Because she is me. And my daughters are her. 

I will get there. I will write it. She will not let me sleep until I do.

I am not ready yet, to go there alone. Something is waiting. Something is coming. I trust. But I am writing it anyway. Now. From here. Because this ghost won’t let me go.                                                

have you ever had such an intense urge to "go home" and yet you are not sure what that means. because you've never been there. but you are sure olives are involved and cracked earthen walls and endless hours of sunshine. and naps. right when the sun slits the lower part of the sky. and where the wine doesn't give you 3am panic attacks. and the morning comes slowly, easily. and riddles are solved of why your cheekbones rise like they do and why your heart has a funny tingling feeling in the top left corner when you are sad and why your anger feels like love, always, like the turn over of love. and where your insatiable hunger for the smell of jasmine in the morning is satisfied. and why the volume of your everyday voice is no big thing, because everyone likes a loud bold woman. you feel like you belong. like you are recognized. like you've been so very missed. and every day is a welcome home party. with bread. and figs.

this is how i feel.

And so it is.