On Bread and Presence

I stare at my tapestry of what I suppose are pine trees. I have headphones in. My head falls back like a slinky, and seeing the inside of myself is all I owe the world.

It’s fun to be in my feelings, where I can say, “I just want to be a fairy,” and sit on the floor of my room or bake challah.

Earlier I prepared challah dough from scratch (Mushky’s recipe). Tomorrow is Shabbat. The Jewish Sabbath that spans every Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. On Friday nights I light candles, make bread and wine holy. Millions of Jews across the world do the same. It’s in the vein of this tradition I think of the dough I prepared, and how it will rise overnight, and how this is what my people do.

People make fun of baking bread. What is so funny about the gathering of simple ingredients that we’ve figured out in making something of substance? I’d prefer to know more about wheat and the ingredients I’m using than most of the other information that’s accessible to me – like Paris Hilton’s sex tape or a dude holding up a cardboard sign. Bread is important. There’s a reason we’ve been doing it since the beginning of time. What’s natural isn’t archaic.

I think about our inventions – the ideas I think separate us from our archaic selves. From fire to radio. Today, it feels like tech companies fooled us by giving us all the basics first. The alarm clock function on our phone is average, but look at this Snapchat filter that makes you look like Abraham Lincoln. We were given alarm clocks and calculators, a note pad and compass, phone calls and SMS. A timer to alert me on the status of my bread!

What is it about the smell of yeast that makes it desirable but suspicious at the same time? And is the mystery always in rising up? I question if I’m still referring to bread. Yeast is gold these days. Everyone’s baking. There’s power in making science taste like home. I say science in that baking is a precise science that relies on measurement and chemistry I don’t understand. But I understand other aspects of the bread that took experience, but not much else. Something innate in me lets me bake bread.

It’s the presence that comes with kneading dough, or putting on lotion, or doodling that keeps us on Earth. Why are we trying to go somewhere else? What happened here? Bread is groovy. So is coloring. And staring at walls. There are boundaries in these things. I’m cased in me, and the world in itself. And all of us in each other. But we all bake bread. We all need hydrated skin.

I knead in between my knuckles, hand against hand, the right amount of pressure applied. We know what we need. We know what we want in a single moment. We feel what it is to be thirsty, or have to use the restroom, or to need a piece of chocolate. That’s human. Knowing what we want in a single moment. Feeling what we need. If you’re caught up, I understand. I might be. But cracking my knuckles and neck (I know it’s not “good for me”), I go, ah, my feelings aren’t my thoughts. I’m liberated from the weight of my own concerns and gaze at the reflection of a warm light that shines back at me in the wrapper of a Hershey’s Kiss that sits on my bedside table.

I think, I’m back. My head is back again and I listen to music. It’s passing as is everything else. My room reminds me… This past Saturday was the first time I had spent time in my bed outside of sleeping, or outside of lying in bed on the bookends of falling asleep and waking up. I’ve lived in this apartment for nine months and hadn’t relaxed in my own bed. So much time was spent out and about, and if I was home, on the couch, with endless distractions available.

Now in my room I engage in a moment and its lack of vocabulary, and how what I can’t articulate in the moment is what calms me. Calm is in the swift shadow of my birdcage lamp and how little I expect of it. In the muted tan of the walls and the rigid shape of the alcove. In the tapestry and the trees and the tapping of my fingers against my keyboard. I dictate it. In the white noise and the bubble bath of vibration I swim in. I imagine the hairs in my ears that pick up vibrations (stereocilia, I Googled it) dancing some rain dance, asking for love. Pulling down the goo of the past and breaking through, sticky and mad.

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