Last night, I picked my husband up at the airport. The last time I picked him up at the airport, it was the same time on a Saturday night, but back in November. In November, there were 3 of us waiting on a flight. Last night, there were swarms of people.
I watched young couples reunited, as if one had been kept in a POW camp. I watched couples my age greet their college students, home one assumes for Spring Break. I watched groups of other college kids, so many groups of college kids, moving in waves towards planes and away from planes. There were a few sets of grandparents on hand for grandchildren, and the children who birthed those marvelous grandkids.
Usually I love being in the airport, watching these reunions. Last night, I felt my mood tinged with a bit of melancholy. If you've been following this blog, you know that this week has had many reminders of mortality, so it's not a surprise to me that I'd watch these reunions and think about all the people who will never have reunions with their loved ones, at least not on this side of the grave.
I tried to greet my husband as if he'd been held captive, and I'd been lucky enough to get him back. I hope I can keep greeting him like that once a day. I can't greet everyone with a passionate kiss, but I hope I can grace them with the kind of attention that makes them feel like they've been released from the modern prisons of isolation and loneliness.
And I want to give my writing that kind of attention too. I plan to gather together all the scraps of Ash Wednesday thoughts that I've written in the past few weeks, along with past blog posts, and I want to weave them into a longer essay. I will write a poem or two. It's a week of many meetings this week, so I want to remember that I'm made for more than meetings.
It will be interesting to see how my writing changes as I go through my later years. As I drove to the airport last night, I thought of a story I wrote years ago, a story I wrote before I watched my mother-in-law die her terrible death by medical industrial complex. It was a story of old college friends now in their 30's, and one of them was near death. He got better. I haven't reread it recently, but I recall that homemade bread became a symbol and an agent of healing.
I've always had an irrational faith in the ability of homemade bread to heal what ails us. It's a combination of being raised Christian and being a child in the 70's when everyone was baking amazing breads right in their home kitchens.
Here I can't resist quoting from this post from The Tipsy Baker blog: "The Tassajara Bakery was the offshoot of a Zen Buddhist center and while I don't remember the bakery itself, I remember the breads -- big, rustic, rugged loaves that were sold at a famous vegetarian restaurant called Greens. If Fantasia was the impossible dream, Tassajara was the earnest, earthy reality of San Francisco in the '70s and early ‘80s. My reality. . . . You can see the Tassajara influence on a handful of Gordon's recipes, like her whole-grain muffins. On Saturday, I got up early and baked a batch of these because it seemed like a nutritious breakfast for Isabel, who was heading off to take the SATs. They’re full of everything considered healthy in the Aquarian Age: whole-wheat, millet, oats, honey, prunes, yogurt, eggs, mashed bananas. There's not a single ingredient on that list that is universally embraced by the dietary police of today. Not one."
Bread as agent of healing, bread as embrace . . . it's a potent symbol that I don't expect to ever leave behind. And maybe I should bake some bread today. The day stretches ahead of me with some unexpected emptiness: I went to church last night, and then I worked on taxes while I waited for it to be time to pick up my spouse from the airport. What would nourish me most as I prepare for this week of many meetings?
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