Half Moon

When I was four years old my family moved from Manhattan to a tiny upstate town along the Hudson River. The town, looking back, was shabby and odd, but it had some really special things about it.

We rented a neat house with an amazing view of the water and a garden along one side.

It wasn’t a long walk down the hill roads to the boatyard where the Clearwater Sloop docked during the fall and held pumpkin festivals and made stone soup, with the help, of course, of all attendees who brought vegetables and seasonings to add throughout the day.

In town there was a small bookstore with a permanent collection of toys where little kids could play while their parents looked for books. The little barn that moo’d when the door opened. The little stage with a turntable and curtain so you could put on little doll productions.

And nearby, a bakery.

You know how memories never seem quite as strong on their own? But add a scent or a piece of music and suddenly you could be right there, at some specific point in your past?

There is a rare occasion when I remember exactly the feeling of standing in that little bakery. Picking out a half moon cookie.

It tasted exactly how the bakery smelled.

 

Last week, while we were waiting for our Chinese food order, we stopped in the grocers  nextdoor to get a few things. While my husband ran after our laughing, running toddler, I wandered over to their bakery, where my father-in-law works nights, just to see what they had in their case. Not much at that time in the evening, but there was that smell.

That smell that five year old me encountered, picking out a half moon cookie, all those decades ago.

It’s magical what sense memory can do.

About a year ago, I started baking. Inspired by The Great British Baking Show, I decided I would try making things I never thought it would be possible for me to recreate.

Today, inspired by a tiny memory from what feels like a distant past, I made Half Moon Cookies.

 

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Who chokes up over a cookie?

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I guess I do.

 

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Locked/Unlocked

Our house is nearly 100 years old. During the 54 years that the most recent previous owners lived here they made adjustments and modernizations, as people do.

One of the changes they made at some point in their residency was to update the locks and latches on most of the inside and outside doors.

We didn’t know all the details when we made our offer, but when we took our final walk through before we moved in, we found some things that make my 12 year old self absolutely giddy.

I just rediscovered them in a cabinet in the basement while cleaning.

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What’s this? An old broken measuring cup??

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Why, no, world. That’s a jar full of old keys. *HAPPYSQUEEE*

Excuse me, I need to go try to find Oz, and or Narnia, now.

Unholy Days

A lot of holidays have lost most of their meaning for me in adulthood. I am not religious, but I always celebrated a mix of secular-religious days as a kid, including Christian, Jewish, and Pagan traditions. I’ve had Jewish Seder and Easter egg hunts all in the same weekend. We had a Christmas tree in the living room next to the menorah. I used to drag a fallen branch out of the forest and tie ribbons to it, making a May Pole in the meadow behind our house.

In college, however, my separation grew. We worked through every weekend in the theatre and had class on every bank holiday, so I almost never even remember what day is which and when. The ones I tend to remember (and the ones that never change) are holidays like New Year’s and Christmas.

Even so, holidays have gotten to be progressively harder for me over the past four months. 

Just three weeks after our early November wedding, my husband and I found out we were expecting. The excitement and wonder didn’t last more than a month when at our first prenatal exam we found out that I had a condition called a blighted ovum – which you can read about here. The conclusive pronouncement happened two days before Christmas, crushing any hope I’d had of celebrating my favourite holiday with joy. 

We had told our families on Thanksgiving, the loss came at Christmas, and now at every Holiday I have to muster all my strength not to hide in the bedroom with the door locked when it’s time to go celebrate.

Yesterday was Easter, and we arrived at my in-laws at about 12:00 noon, and sat there at the end of the driveway for at least ten minutes. I could not even open my car door. Nic sat with me holding my hand reminding me that everyone inside loves me and that no one is judging me for what happened – for what I cannot stop myself thinking is my greatest failure, despite my absolute knowledge that there was nothing to be done to change the outcome of that pregnancy and its inevitable loss. I still feel like I lied to them. That I should have waited. That I should have known better than to spread a secret without knowing how much of it was true.

I keep going over every moment from the time we found out until the agonizing final physical loss and on into a future of uncertainty and fear.

A future of should-be-bright holidays.

So many of those days are kid-centric. Like Easter. There were all the cousins’ little ones running around the yard picking up colored eggs filled with chocolate in the bright hot April sunshine, and there was I on the deck, laughing at the antics of these kids that I adore, trying to suppress the ache in knowing that their expected playmate won’t be coming for at least another year, assuming all goes well next time around.

What little connection I had to these myriad holidays has been replaced by sadness and shame, all excitement for these events replaced with anxiety and fear.

Everyone kept wishing me a Happy Easter, and I tried to make it one. But honestly, it was really hard, and as for mainstream holidays, I don’t think I really care anymore.

I think perhaps we’ll just have to make our own holidays from now on. Ones that only my household will celebrate. The days we triumphed personally.  

Our anniversary. The day we met. Our next vacation. Our next adventure.

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