Taking a break from work yesterday afternoon, I made my way upstairs carrying a load of freshly laundered clothes. Putting them away, my eyes fell on the suitcase I had taken with me on my trip last week. It stood mute as if challenging me to open it up and relive the good times. I glanced at the clock. I could spare a few more minutes.
Popping it open, I pulled everything out. Folding and stacking the clothes, my fingers felt a velvet pouch. I felt my facial muscles relax into a smile as I pulled it open. Two tiny necklaces and earrings fell out. As if on cue, memories from the past week rose up. Early morning sunlight waking me up. Fresh coffee as soon as I made my way down. Longish phone conversations. Driving through winding scenic roads, the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. Sit down meals. Hot ginger tea. Sliced apples with chaat masala. Late night conversations. Nighttime walks that seemed interminable. Friends from high school.
Tucking away my crimson silk in a chest of drawers, I hesitated before I closed it shut. Fingering the silky texture between my fingers, I remembered doing that on the drive to the temple where my niece participated in her first birthday ceremony. Family. Cutting vegetables late into the night. Waking early to oven roast potatoes. Helping my sister wrap an electric blue silk sari and stepping back to gaze in wonder at the happiness I saw reflected in her face. Watching my baby niece mistake me for her mother and feeling a high, short-lived as it was. Welcoming my uncle inside only to see a face that mirrored my father’s. Conversations with cousins by the doorway. Sitting across familiar faces and chatting and realizing this is why you choose to make a trip across the coast leaving pre-k kids with their dad. Family. In the moments when you see your face mirrored in your nieces. In the softness that pervades your sister’s face as she watches her daughter. In the pride that flashes across her face when her daughters eyes seek hers across the room. In being part of the silent conversations that happen all around you. In the tears you hold back as you wave bye.
You file away each memory knowing some day you will revisit it. Perhaps to recount to your niece how adorable she was when she turned ONE. Or just smile in the confines of your bedroom each time you pass that crimson silk.