If Place is a Pause

If place is a pause, standing in opposition to flux and fluidity, then time and place are in tension.

I think of my mother at the kitchen table, veined hands covered in ground beef and egg yolk. In this moment, she is fifty; her hair has not yet grayed; Uncle Kenny’s meatball recipe is only slightly smudged in the top left corner; the two of us have only been fighting two years now; her eyes are less tired. If I could freeze this moment, this place—kitchen window halfway-drawn, hum from the old refrigerator still audible—I would kiss her powered cheek. I would join my hands with hers, the gooey mix of meat, egg, flour, parmesan cheese sticking between our fingertips. We would mix together. We would be rooted in this place. But time does not stop. The meatballs will be formed. They will cook. They will be eaten. Six pounds will be frozen. And months later, I will defrost them in my own kitchen, five hundred miles away at college.

Time and place are in tension, yes. Life is continual, fluid. Moments consistently running into one another. Change. But is place a pause, or a state of being? Place is temporary, but I don’t see it as a pause. Place is that kitchen—smelling garlic and beef in the frying pan, the morning my father told me he loved me as I packed my bags for school, Sunday brunch of bacon and vanilla French toast, the time I told my parents I’d lost my virginity—place is not a pause, but a location. A setting. A grounded, yet momentary sense of being. A rush of memories.

But time and place will always be in tension. We will forever be continuously moving, and our remembrances will be the only thing that keeps us connected to these exchanges, these encounters, these kitchen tables and simple, shared exchanges with the ones we love.

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