Today I've been thinking about kitchens. Memories attached to places so warm and filled with possibility and positivity. Rooms where we come together and at times fall completely to pieces like spilled milk on black and white checked linoleum. My job places me in the galley for a large part of my day. For the most part I watch Jade cook as I put dishes away and daydream. Today my daydreams began to transport me back to kitchens and people I've loved coming together around food. Its natural for the kitchen to be the heart of the home. House, apartment, boat, mansion or trailer we all find our way to the kitchen for conversation, comfort, and food.
The counter of Casa Mar's kitchen felt never ending as a child. I would sit in a retain stool peeking over the counter as my mother went around in circles baking or cooking meal after meal. Wood carvings of fish and an eel hang from the rafters. Shelves with books, food, and life's artifacts take over one wall. An oblong teak table and side board consume half the room. I can almost picture her now- brown curls behind a peach colored bandana, an oversized t-shirt and shorts covering her short frame. Thick recognizable hands kneading dough and covering it with a red checked cloth. The Joy of Cooking is open and her face is covered with flour. Suddenly I'm older in the same kitchen years later with my hands in a dish pan as guitars play, dads voice beats, and the party continues on the deck. I am sneaking a glass of wine as I make my way though the mountain of dishes. That moment of great relief comes when every surface is restored and clean awaiting tomorrows day. Still years later I in this space alone listening to NPR XM radio reminding myself that somewhere outside my Little Harbour a world exists. I sip tea and try to decide how I will be a part of it. I feed Tilly and sketch silly drawings and pros onto white sheets of paper. Now I am surrounded by new friends around a single light bulb as they bring old time music into my home. I'm making fish tacos for breakfast as Amos tunes his fiddle. I am barefoot and dancing to Yonder as I apply sunscreen and pack a bag for a day on Bookies. All these memories flood so easily into my mind.
The kitchen I grew up in is crumbling around the edges. The salt has gotten to the particle board in the cabinets. Salt water concrete walls crack across the roof line. Stainless pots begin to rust. The vent on the opened beamed roof refuses to spin and lets in the rain. Most of the chairs around that big table have broken and hurricanes have stolen some of the art and sense of possibility. But most of it is still so familiar. The place I'm most comfortable in the entire world. It doesn't matter who is with me in this space. Over the years I've been joined by family, drunks, Norwegians, musicians, Kewies, lovers, and friends. I've painted the walls and rafters. Bleached the counters and woken to sticky bugs after all night parties. I've made the best and most low meals. We've strung fresh pasta across clothes lines. For a time a bug zapper hung from a beam and caught fire to flying roaches. I've danced, eaten sushi until I couldn't breath, laughed, philosophized, drank and smoked myself stupid, and listened to the rain in this space. Our lives happen in kitchens. In spaces that bring us the most comfort and security. Spaces that produce sustenance, normalcy, and peace. I can close my eyes and the physical space comes so clearly it brings a flood of memories easily played among the same backdrop.
Now as I work and wonder I make new memories in dozens of other kitchens. Of coarse I've smiled, laughed, and cried in other kitchens. But in person or memory I go to Casa Mar for comfort and a reminder of all that I am.
Miami Beach, FL