It Comes Back to Me

Could you grab a banana? Mar asks me as I stand, pushing my chair backwards with exaggerated effort.

We’re allowed to take one piece of fruit out of the dining room, and I’ve been stashing apples in my room since Monday, painstakingly toting one red fruit out of the dining room every meal.

But she wants a banana, and I nod, step away, only to return to the table.

What for? I ask, leaning onto table, my hands planted on either side of the bowl of chicken noodle soup I’ve just finished.

I have some coconut oil upstairs and want to try making fried bananas, she says, the idea glowing excitedly in her strong blue eyes.

Ah! Fried plantains! I exclaim as I step away from the table once more, We used to make that at the orphanage all the time!

Because I might not talk about it very much on in this space, but the time I spent in Mexico, the days and weeks and months that I lived life at the Casa Hogar, are still fresh in my memory.

I still remember answering the phones in that cool downstairs office, sitting in Hermana Tere’s spinning chair and fielding questions from a woman who has a child she cannot care for, can she drop her off tomorrow?

I still remember the hours spent standing in the kitchen, skidding around on the slippery white tile. Making lunch, serving anything from carrot puree soup (not a hit) to hamburgers and salad (winner winner).

I still remember late nights riding in the van with Manuel and Tere, their family. 1am driving back from the aunt’s house, exhausted and full after a night of games and tacos with the cousins.

I still remember the women who ran the tiendita across the street, inviting us into their home, giving my sisters free bags of potato chips and kisses on our frequent visits.

I still remember Saturday night restaurants with my family, moving through that Mexican city in the mountains, trying new dishes, becoming more adventurous, with every passing weekend.

I still remember church on Sunday morning, back in the evening if I was lucky. Sitting on the faded pink pew benches, raptly attentive to the pastor even as I watched those around me, soaking in every detail of Mexican life that I could possibly remember.

I don’t talk about it very much, I know. But I remember it all.

And tonight, standing in the kitchen frying thin slices of banana in sizzling coconut oil, it came back to me all over again.

~Natalia

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