Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Seven Eighty Seven and the Bologna Sandwhiches

This is just a little story about my grandparent's house: a place of infinite memories.


Seven Eighty Seven and the Bologna Sandwhiches

Sitting on the familiar chairs, I found myself unable to accept that it was the last time I would ever eat a sandwich in that kitchen. I have eaten many sandwiches in that kitchen and most of them I had taken for granted. I suppose a lot of people would take something like a sandwich for granted. But if we think about how much else we take for granted – time, people, relationships, love – the simple, often overlooked things become embossed with importance.

The last sandwich…

I took one, careful bite. I instantly recalled summer lunches on the back picnic benches, my Pop singing while scooping out vanilla ice cream and dropping it all on the floor, blowing bubbles off the porch, making Jello in funny little cups with Grandma, drawing with chalk on the slab of concrete in the back and mowing the lawn with the old- fashioned lawn mower that I was too proud to admit I couldn’t handle when I was nine years old. Being in the house is like stepping backwards to a warmer, happier time. The memories held within the walls of this house are ones I know I won’t ever release, but I will forever mourn the end of their making.


Another bite…

Sleeping over the house was a big deal when I was young. We would play on the stairs for hours. They were covered with green carpet and were perfect pretend mountains. We would play in the pantry cupboard with a collection of toy dishes and other little things my grandparents had collected and kept over the years. Playing restaurant was something we took very seriously – the adults humored us by making very complicated orders (except for my Pop who always ordered steak and eggs). We got to take baths in the big, old, claw-foot tub complete with an old floating toy ship and a little man who would sink to the bottom of the tub if he fell overboard. Afterwards, my grandma would let me use her expensive dusting powder and I always felt like a very sophisticated lady. I slept in my mom’s old bedroom and would try to imagine what she must have been like as a child, until I fell asleep.


Another bite…

New Years Eve was quite the holiday for us growing up. It was the one night a year we were allowed to stay up so late, the one night a year when we ate our dinner after midnight, and the one night we were encouraged to make as much noise as we possibly could. Since we’ve grown up and gone our own ways, we grandkids have all found different ways to celebrate the New Year. But every December 31st spent ringing it in another way has felt empty and hollow. By some divine chance, I decided to stop by the house this past year on my way to my New Year’s party – the last year in the old brown recliner with noisemakers and funny paper hats.


Another bite…

The sandwiches were alright. My grandma made the best sandwiches in the world. It’s kind of a funny thing to say I suppose. I mean, a sandwich is a sandwich. But there was just something about them that tasted different, that tasted like love and home. When I was little, I told her I thought it was because she aged the bologna for just the right amount of time. She brought it up every time she made me a sandwich after that (and even sometimes when she wasn’t making one) and it always made her laugh.


Another bite…

I stopped for a moment to breathe deeply. It always struck me how certain places have a very distinct smell that is impossible to place and just as impossible to forget. If somebody asked me to describe the smell of the house, I would not be able to. It just smells like 787 Lake Street has always smelled. When hit by the smell walking into the house that night, I half expected my grandma to be standing in the hall to greet me.

But she wasn’t, and she won’t be again. The funeral was the next morning and she would pass this cove of memory – the contents of a whole life well lived – for the last time. I’d never felt so tired. I realized I had started to cry.

And I took the last bite.


- Elizabeth Lodato, St. Peter's College. Jersey City, NJ.

2 comments:

Rachel Wifall said...

Thank you so much, Liz for being the first student to post. I love this memoir so much; I love your imagery and tone. You just sound like a loving grandchild here and you display both humor and depth of feeling. Kudos!

Remembering Places said...

Hi Liz - really enjoyed this. I think the strength of it is in its attention to detail (the bit in the tub is particularly memorable in this respect). The way you structure the story through the sandwich is also innovative and striking. Have you come across a memoir called "Toast" by Nigel Slater? It's a story of his childhood told through food. Thanks for posting this - good stuff. Jonathan Taylor