I’m sitting on my bike in the parking lot of Thoms. It is this bakery that is right near the school I studied at and has in so many ways come to represent all that was good about my childhood and somehow, the beginning of my obsession with creating rituals. Maybe it’s my attempt at creating something familiar to look forward to in a rollercoaster of an adventure that has been my life. Maybe Jung will have a different explanation. Still, this place smells like fresh bread and donuts and through the window you can see the reason I’ve ridden 12 kilometers in the hot sun and through Indian traffic. Christmas- iced cream cakes that look like ice skating rinks; that brings up images of living in snow-globes and sends a tingle of magic up and down my spine. And this cake is Christmas. It’s hard to explain it without sounding like a total kook. Every year we sit around the tree, cut the cake and it’s like an instant flashback of how the year has been for all of us individually and how it has been to us as a family. And every year we sit around the cake and our glasses of wine and sit silently knowing all the memories we created, whether painful or not, we were never truly alone!
It was my dad who started the tradition. We kids had term exams and my birthday, dad’s birthday and Christmas all falling a few days after the other so while I’d set up the tree and I’d also bully my siblings into writing letters for Santa. And dad would come to pick us from school and buy us chocolate éclairs from Thoms. And when we did enter with our li’l feet and awestruck eyes, we’d stare at the iced cakes till one of them called to us! Then we’d get home, get into our pj’s and watch old Christmas movies till we fell asleep!
The wine was from the port dad used to bring from when he worked in pondicherry. So even when I was in Africa last year dancing with the whole village, I still stole some moments to decorate the tree, sit around it and contemplate life while eating plum cake and drinking Port while looking at the moon rise behind Kilimanjaro.
I’m at the airport again in the middle of the night. I’m picking up the Pea and I haven’t seen her in a year and a half. I’ve never gone this long without physically meeting her. While it has been hard, watching her walk through the gate will reinforce that feeling that she has never left. I can feel it in my fingertips and in the tears of that lady who just ran out and held on to that man like letting go would be the end of the world.
Aah airports. Why you do this?
It’s almost the end of the year. I’m showing more scars, I’ve grown, I lived half of this year in another continent and the other back home but I did the same things- I changed diapers, I fed and bathed and took care of people who came to mean a lot to me. I made new friends, I shied away from those I already had. I started writing more and burning more than I’ve written. Now I can’t boast of inner peace and balance but I can say this, my life, it moves and is alive.
I saw this amazing idea reposted by the Day Zero Project about having a Memory Jar. I think I’m going to start doing that come 2012. What a great way to take stock of your life and not look back on the year gone by as a series of failures as most of us do but as a string of memories created under seemingly ordinary circumstances!
I can almost feel a new ritual coming on!