I was spoiled in one way as a child: bread.
My mother made a fresh loaf often, and I have many fond memories of coming home to the warm scent of bread permeating in the house. This was especially common in the fall, as the leaves turned red and we went off to school. I would walk through the door, the cool scent of rain and rotting leaves behind me, only to be hit by the heat of the oven. I’d bound into the kitchen and cut off a heel of bread, still hot, soft inside with crunchy crust.
I associate bread, good bread, with home as much as anything else.
I didn’t realize how much I loved my mother’s bread, and how integral it was to my sense of home, until this weekend, when I went home for the first time in the five weeks I’ve been at school. I wasn’t there long – only an hour or two – but my mother fed me before she took my home. For dinner, we had chicken soup and homemade bread. Ripping apart that heel, still hot, was like stepping into the past.
Family dinners were a Big Thing at our house. We ate around the dinner table every night, talking about our highs and lows of the day, our plans for tomorrow, and the occasional intellectual tidbit. Sometimes, dinner was the only time we were all together, especially as we grew up and played sports and joined choir and band and orchestra. Mealtimes were Family Times; we bonded over bread (and other dishes, of course).
Graduating, moving out, no longer having a room, working, moving into the dorm, embarking on my collegiate career: I’ve been closing doors, locking them behind me, and then throwing away the key. I can’t go to my parent’s home and have it feel the same. But I can find a loaf of bread, baked with a mixture of whole-wheat and white flour, and cut off the heel. I can take a bite of it while it’s still warm. I can remember all the meals my family had together.
I can go home.
And then I can call my mom.