It's way past my bed time but my new winter edition cookbook arrived in the mail and like an excited child, I have to read it back cover to front before bed.
I turned a page and my eyes caught a glimpse of a picture of a tortilla shaped into a salad bowl at the precise moment I felt an ice cold chill run down my spine at the precise moment that a siren wailed outside my city window.
I'm choking back tears and I'm petrified. It's fading. This is exactly like waking up from a horrible nightmare. The shock is so frightening and it fades second by second upon realization that you're safe and before you know it, it's gone. Just like that. And if you don't write about it within five minutes, you'll lose it.
The second my heart began beating again and I realized what had just happened, I tossed the new issue aside and reached for my laptop.
Crystal clear memories/visions untouched by my own perceptions or drugs regarding a very specific time in my life are extremely hard to come by. I do not force them. The vision just brought on by that tortilla, chill and siren would have brought me to my knees had I been standing.
I saw, as if it were happening this very instant, Alex standing at the stove shaping tortillas in a pan of sizzling oil. He's concentrating and I'm watching him and it's still only our first week in our new luxurious, white, clean yet unfurnished apartment. I may not have had all the hope in the world for my new life by the end of that first week but the situation was no where near as hopeless as it would become. That tortilla combined with that ice cold chill was shocking. You see, everytime I experience uncomfortable cold, I find myself remembering. Never had I been so cold than in those three months that seemed to last an eternity. Just my luck that I would be locked out of every bedroom in my own apartment left to sleep on the carpet under piles of dirty clothes a minimum of three out of seven days during one of the coldest winters in history. Just my luck that my roommates developed ways to keep me out even when I had all the keys to the front door. I have never been homeless, but goddamn do I know the agonizing pain of waking up in the backseat of a two door coupe in below zero weather under three blankets too cold to reach over the front seat to turn the key to receive heat. The thought of sticking my hand, head, or arm out of the blankets to help make the pain stop was too frightening to comprehend. Come to think of it, I don't think I was comprehending much in those days. But I do remember leaving the car running for a good twenty minutes, the heat on full blast getting that car good and steamy. Check the time, 3:07 am, kill the engine, fall asleep, wake up shivering and numb and every part of the body is clenched and in agonizing pain, check the time, 3:53 am. Find the courage and strength to start the car, repeat.
I don't remember often. I seem to be remembering a lot. The sirens. This whole disaster of my life ended with sirens.
I'm once again looking at the picture of the tortilla bowl. Alex wasn't making bowls but taking soft tortillas and making them into semi soft taco shells. He was good at that. We ate as a family that night sitting in a semi-circle on the living room floor enjoying tacos and green salad. Who would have known?
Who would have known?