My happy place…Sitting in the kitchen of my mom and stepdad’s house in New Jersey…A house that still stands but isn’t loved anymore the way it once was. Built in the 1700’s and has stood the test of time…Until now.
That kitchen was tiny and not in a normal, “Oh I wish we had a bigger kitchen…” kind of way but the house itself was only 11 feet wide and it is probably generous to say the kitchen was 10 feet deep. The stove was a smaller stove, build for a smaller house, the table that sat beneath the window had 2 folding wings so if all 4 of us wanted to sit around it for supper we would move it out and fold them up. Normally those 2 extra chairs were stashed away and the wings down, a small table just room for 2. The only cabinets and counters all sat on the one wall. Mom did a great job of being creative on only having a few things but making it feel as if she cooked with more.
Everything was painted white in order to make it appear bigger but there was no getting around the tininess of that space, but with the window open and the light streaming in through the tree it felt anything but small.
Outside of that window was the most beautiful tree. What kind, I couldn’t tell you, but in the springtime it would bloom and the branches hung just low enough that they could be seen peeking into the window, wanting to be a part of the conversation. That tree is no longer there, ripped up from its roots for no real reason.
I remember sitting on the stairs that lead down from the second floor into the kitchen. Narrow and short, even my small behind barely fit comfortably. The stairs were dark wood and the railing painted white. I would sit there Saturday mornings, that was my perch and I would have my coffee or tea with my parents as they sat at the small table under the window. Light streaming in, the smell of spring in the air and birds chirping outside.
I can close my eyes and see the corner cabinet that held my mom’s massive tea collection. I can still see my mom standing in that kitchen getting supper prepared for us or my step-dad standing in the doorway between the hall and the kitchen, right arm leaned against the frame, drinking his coffee getting ready to go to a race on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t have a photo of that kitchen, there might be one in an album of my stepdad’s but nothing that I have myself, but I don’t need one. That image will forever be etched in my mind. I almost love that I can’t go back there physically, that all I have is that memory. Sometimes memories are better than the reality and in the midst of reality falling apart in that family then I am fine just holding onto that memory and never having it tainted or taken away.
That house is no longer ours, that kitchen no longer as loved, that perch no longer mine, that tree no longer there and that family is no longer whole. But the memory of that house, the memory of that place, that time, that moment of quiet…will ALWAYS be the safest, happiest place for me.