I guess the best part about editing is that sometimes, you need to fix things that don't make sense. I knew all along that Nate's attitude needed something, but was not satisfied with what I had. Today, after talking with those in the know about what Nate is struggling with, I think I found an answer. Today's post is born out of that and should help all of us understand what it is that has encased Nate and caused his desire to escape...
The moving truck held the last of the house. Nate looked at all the boxes filling up the space that was empty just a few hours ago. The emptiness had taken over Nate as he saw his room leave box by box. His grandparents were walking through the house, checking to see if the movers had left any boxes. Nate’s parents had already gone ahead with his brothers and sisters. Nate had volunteered to stay with his grandparents and start the drive to their new home after the movers left.
The truck pulled away with what felt like Nate’s heart packaged inside of it. He wondered if he would be able to find it again when they got to their new home. His grandmother came to where he was standing in the yard watching the truck make its way down the road. She put her arm around him and pulled him close to her. “You ready for some dinner, Buddy?” She asked as she drew him to her home across the street. Nate had walked the path so often that it was as easy as breathing for him. The fact that this would be his last time traveling this short distance to between their homes was something he pushed from his mind. Each step though was washed with a flood of memories, making each step treacherous. He knew that his emotions might bubble over and sweep him away with that tide. His grandfather came and stood on the other side of him as if he knew that Nate’s grasp was slipping away and steadied him with his presence.
When Nate opened the door and stepped in, he breathed deep his grandparents’ home. It was life giving, the scent of their life together. It was a mixture of gardenias and sweet tobacco smoke and lemon from furniture polish. He stood there as if he were just rescued drowning and breathed in that easy air. And yet the truth hounded him right outside the door. He couldn’t bring himself to turn and look out the window where his entire childhood had played out. Instead of closing the door, he just walked in away from the memories that where there waiting to pounce.
“Buddy, can you come help me with the pizza dough?” Nate’s grandmother called from the kitchen. His grandfather was the last to step into the house and closed the door shutting out all that Nate couldn’t deal with. He was safe, even if just for a moment.
Nate walked into the kitchen and saw his grandmother pulling the dough from her large ceramic bowl onto the well floured counter. Making pizza was something that Nate and his grandmother did. She never shared this pleasure of dough with her other grandchildren. It was their special treat. Nate watched as she divided the dough into two pieces and stepped aside so that he could have space to work. He touched the softness and worked his fingers into it with precision and joy. This place was a place that had been untouched by emptiness. Though they didn’t say anything while they worked, he knew that her love for him was certain and spoke louder than the echoing rumble of the moving truck still ringing in Nate’s ears. He lost his emptiness in the dough, moving it into a circle and flattening it out with his grandmother’s wooden rolling pin into an almost perfect circle as she had taught him so many years ago when they first started making pizza together. As they placed the towels over the dough to rise one last time before baking, his grandfather came in and wrapped his arms around his grandmother’s waist. She beamed as he snuggled into her neck. Nate had missed scenes like this since his mom had been ill. His mom and dad used to be just as playful and loving as his grandparents, but not since the twins had come along. It seemed that everything was different since they were born, actually since before they were born for that matter. Months of bed rest had taken their toll on the family and it didn’t get any better after their birth. The twins were beautiful and the joy of the entire family, but there mother appeared to have disappeared just like their home had; tucked away in some box somewhere with no label to help them find her.
They all went out onto the back porch while the pizza crusts rose in the kitchen. Grandpa lit his pipe perfuming the evening with its heady smell. Nate remembered wanting to try to be like his Grandpa and trying to smoke the pipe. He was just a little kid, barely old enough to light a match, but he had and the first puff from the pipe proved to be disastrous. The taste and burn of the smoke in his mouth and lungs was nothing like the sweet scent that wafted out of the pipe when his grandpa smoked. He thought for sure that he had done something wrong. He had been caught by his grandpa and wasn’t able to sit for an entire day after he finished with his spanking. Nate had asked him, after his pride had healed, if pipe smoke tasted bad. His grandpa had laughed, throwing his head back at that question. “I see that you fell into the oldest trap, things are not always what they seem. Just because something smells good, doesn’t mean it will taste good. Or just because it looks one way doesn’t mean that is actually so. Remember the story of Sisera? She invited him in for dinner, but was plotting to kill him the entire time.” From that point on, Nate was satisfied just smelling his grandfather’s pipe. Nate stretched out on the porch swing, while his grandparents sat holding hands on the rocker glider. He already missed this moment.