We had pie. All of us, I mean. Feeling vaguely reminiscent of a large family gathering, with all the windows and doors open to let in the newly August air, we gathered around the oven and shared large scoops of vanilla ice cream that melted almost immediately. In the background, everything hurt a little less, but in the way a computer updates without you even noticing. You used to have to tell your computer: yes, now is the time to move forward! But now, it all just happens automatically.
“I’m going to drink my ice cream.” one of us declared, before immediately doing just that. We all validated the decision with heavy enthusiasm.
It was blueberry. The pie, I mean. I think this detail is important for you to know.
Perhaps, you’ve been here before. Swaddled by cigarette smoke and people. Everyone takes carefully constructed bites because the pie has become an event. Something we all want to acknowledge that we appreciate out loud.
‘We took it out too early.’
‘But, you know what, I like it that way! It’s better this way anyway. Our imperfect, perfect pie.’
How easy is suddenly felt to be alive. I recently read an article on nostalgia and how it relates to food (read it here) and I wondered if I’d spend my entire life trying to recreate this slice of pie. Would I be on my deathbed one day thinking, “Life peaked at blueberry pie.”
(Writing this now, I snap the elastic band on my wrist once against my flesh. A trick my therapist recommended. I’m unclear about the details of when you’re actually supposed to snap it, but the right moments seem to present themselves to me like they’re scheduled. Snap to life, snap to reality.
Like children, we hesitated going to bed that night, staying up well past our usual bed times for no reason at all. Long past the end of conversations. Occasionally someone might say, “I should go to bed” without getting up, without even the intention of getting up. There were eight of us, then, suddenly, seven, six, five.. (I like to think of Bowie counting down in Space Oddity)
Then, without our consent, the night became early morning and there was only two of us left. Warriors waging a one sided battle against time. I concentrated on keeping every muscles in my body steady, thinking I could become stuck in time if I was careful enough. But even still, my heart pulsed, my nails grew, my lungs expanded and then contracted. A busy highway pretending to be still water.
I’ve eaten blueberry pie before. It’s tasted like familiar stains in old carpet, the heat of Illinois in the summer right before a big storm, pulling folding chairs out of the garage so everyone has a place to sit. It’s been many things. Frequently, it tastes like a beginning and an ending all in one slice. Like, “Why haven’t we done this before? We’re alive every single day, but we only eat blueberry pie on special occasions.” Like, “Let’s start having pie for breakfast!”
I’m going to eat pie again, though I can’t tell you exactly which flavor yet. But when I do, it’s going to taste brand new, and it’s going to taste like a home, and hopefully then I’ll turn to you and say:
‘We had pie. All of us.’