"In India, we made toast on the griddle," I say. Rachel stands at the stove, pouring Bisquick batter into a pan. Small circles, soon to be pancakes. We cover them with whipped cream and strawberries, and we sit at the kitchen table, me sipping coffee, Rachel with a mug of hot chocolate. We talk about her daughter, my niece. Seven month Abby, blue eyed and mostly bald (if we're honest), has stolen every square inch of my heart. We trade information about what we bought Peter for Christmas and decide together whether he'll like it or think it's stupid. Teenage boys are a difficult gift demographic. And in-between these bits of life, I slip in fragments of the four month season that changed me more than any other time in my life.
My sister is home from California for Christmas, and I am home from Kolkata for Christmas. Being with Rach loosens my tongue and unstops my heart. I can tell her how one week ago, I was making toast in a fourth floor flat, trying not to burn both sides. On a good day, trying not to burn either side. Sometimes, I need to talk about toast. Sometimes, I can't talk at all. Then, she sits with me in silence and strokes my hair while I cry or stare out the window blankly.
This is good for me, the companionship of my sister and best friend, because I'm back in the land of toasters, where one button push will send my bread down and a timer will resurrect it soon after. I'm distracted. It's Christmas season, and I'm wrapping presents and catching up with friends on the telephone and wasting time on the Internet. I try to journal, and five minutes later, I set my pen down and go look for some more sugar cookies in the kitchen. Everything in me says this is the apt time to process. I ought to think and write and talk about India, but the remembering is hard. Harder than I want it to be.
So I will begin with burnt toast tales.
It's a start.