My Grandmother’s House – A Sense Memory
It was a typical Saturday morning. I had gone out to pick up dry cleaning, do a Trader Joe’s run for snacks no one needs, coffee, you get the picture. It’s our first cold weekend here in Vegas and it never fails to take me by surprise. Having lived on the east coast for years I know what cold feels like but here in Vegas (where morons wear shorts all year round no matter what the temperature) there was a nip in the air that included a little moisture that made me long to get home, put on the sweats and television and spend a day of nothingness with one of our two cats alternating in my lap.
Loaded down with bags and dry cleaning (trying not to dump my coffee all over both) I got the door open. The minute it opened it happened, transportation. Like something out of Star Trek, I found myself suddenly in my grandmother’s house because I smelled it, smelled every smell I had smelled as a child and then adult. I almost rocked back on my heels at the rush of the memories flooding in, things I hadn’t thought about in years as my grandmother died what was it, was it fifteen years, twenty, I couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter, I was about to see her where I always saw her, in the kitchen. I closed my eyes. I took a deeper breath in and then there I was in her house. I could see the stairs, the blue carpet with the thickest padding I’ve ever felt before or since and then all the events that took place in her house started flooding in, walking in the back door (we rarely used the front door) the love and warmth that greeted us every time we walked in that house. I was there again and all those years of acting class seemed to finally pay off, I was having what very might have been my first true “sense memory” that they talk about in “method” acting, where you force yourself to experience what you’ve experienced before through all your senses to make your performance real. What I was experiencing couldn’t get more real at the moment and like a drug addict, I stood right inside the door wanting more.
I opened my eyes and saw the culprit, a pot of chicken soup on the stove made by my spouse of twenty-four years (a six foot black man who looks nothing like my Jewish grandmother). The soup had been on the stove before I left but for some reason it didn’t smell like this when I left. Now he’s made chicken soup before and it never triggered this event or feelings in me. For non-believers, do yourself a favor and believe with me for a moment. I believe it WAS my grandmother coming to me for a visit; she had waited for me to come home. And as I put some groceries away in the refrigerator and saw matzoh balls waiting to go into the soup I was convinced of it. With my birthday coming up in a few days, I’m sure this was her coming to wish me a sense of peace and love. Two things I always felt in her home and in her arms.
My spouse was at the computer. I laid my head on his shoulder from behind and gently kissed his neck. I closed my eyes and in my mind I thanked my grandmother for her visit, my spouse and more importantly for all she gave to me during her life, never asking for anything in return. She and my parents taught me about unconditional love, something I have now from my spouse too. Now, so many years later during a stressful time in my life where stress is almost all I ever feel, I felt calm as my shoulders lowered and my eyes filled with tears. Not tears of sadness but tears of gratitude that I could still feel my grandmother with me and reach out and feel my spouse who is here in the physical world with me.
People say that things come to you when you’re ready, when you need them. Today my grandmother came (and she brought her house with her). I was ready and I needed it (even though I didn’t know I did) and as I type this I think of all the people who’ve lost people, who are so stressed out with their current life and I wish for them a moment, a visit from someone they love like I had today. It would be easy to wish for more moments like this in my life or for this feeling to last but as I came back to the present I thought of everyone else in the world that needs a present like this today. So here’s hoping you get your own visit soon!
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An acquired taste, like Tab cola, Some Like It Scott is one gay man's experiences with love, life and things that make him crazy, all done to a musical theatre soundtrack.
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