There’s something about making pie that makes me feel closer to my family. It’s something to share. Something to anticipate. Something to savor. Something that takes time. Lately I have felt quite far from my family. While hours separate the places where we live, my mom’s ongoing illness, my nana’s ever pressing depression, and my gramary’s new reality of existing alone have made me feel even further away. Helpless. They weigh on me.
This past week I’ve felt the luxury of more time on my hands as my schedule has changed, something I’ve desperately wanted since I’m usually staring heavy-eyed down ever longer to do lists that I’ve made for myself. Important and menial things that I pile up on the same list; and I’m unable to separate them or look past them until they are all done. After wading through the anxiety that comes with an abrupt change in my normal schedule (the over-thinking, the head-swirling, the intense unmotivation) I was able to see the gift that this time really was. The coveted space that felt like it was closing in on me burst wide open. It really felt this dramatic, like I was 1,000 pounds lighter and a warm white light was radiating around me with this realization that this time was all for me. Guilt-free time. Nothing else I should be doing.
So, I made pie.
I reconnected to me. I reconnected to my family. I spoke to all three women in one day—mom, gramary, and nana—and to hear their voices, all very different, brought me peace.
I am so sick of hearing my mom cry. But when she laughs, I can’t get enough.
I smell the pie baking in the oven and I think of her. That warm, grounding feeling when someone who is far feels close. I think of how excited she would be to have a piece of warm pie and then a cold one for breakfast. For a moment I feel guilty for making it because I know she can’t enjoy it. She sits in her bed in pain while I revel in the feel and smell and taste of fresh baked pie. But then I remember that everyone loves pie and I think of my friends who I will share it with later, the smiles it will bring to their faces and the ability to share what I made with my hands. My guilt dissipates a little and I try not to lose the enjoyment I just felt in making the pie.
This morning I laid out all the ingredients on my counter and scanned over the recipe. When I saw that the pie dough called for one tool—hands—I took it as a sign. I love cooking with my hands. It helps me feel connected to myself and what I am cooking. As I pressed the flour coated cubes of cold butter together in between my finger pads and spread them apart to flatten the butter out I felt an ease come over me. I took my time because I had time. I felt how luxurious it was to methodically and slowly incorporate the butter into the flour and the water into that to form a dough. It was nice to do this alone.
Embracing aloneness can be hard for me. It’s a fabricated kind of aloneness, one that comes from my anxious mind that I feel deep into my chest cavity. One that makes no sense because I am loved by so many and could never truly be alone. It’s the one that gets triggered when I have some free time, my mind doesn’t seem to grasp this concept since it always feels the need to be doing, doing, doing, or surrounded by others. But this is all BS. When I surrender to it, fully, I find myself calm and very fulfilled. I actually like being alone.
I look down at the mantra bracelet I wear every day: “All I need is within me.” Sometimes I forget this because I have been blessed with a wonderful family, irreplaceable friends, and a man who I love deeply. But at the end of the day I have to be fully at peace with me, with being by myself sometimes. It’s healthy. (I’m telling myself that not you.)
I glance over at the pie cooling on my kitchen counter, in Boston, hours away from my family, and realize that all I need right now, is right here. Me, and a slice of pie.