You know those times when you hear a song and instantly are taken to a specific moment in your life? Or you smell something, just a whiff, and you feel the arms of a memory wrap around you?
That happens to me, a lot. In the car I hear a song and I remember. Or I have Pandora on in the kitchen and I have to stop when they unexpectedly play something I haven't heard in awhile, because it all comes washing over me... people, experiences, emotions. I have tried to make a point to think about and pray for the people the song reminds me of, which would be why my husband found me staring out the window last night as I was emphatically singing along to an old song, my eyes closed tight and my fists clenched.
I was praying for the students from my very first class ten years ago, merely because a song got shuffled in...
Instantly I was a newlywed again, back in my little kitchen in our little apartment, surrounded by food I had no idea what to do with it. And, again, I was cooking ground beef because it was cheap (and that was our key operating term at that point in our lives... newlyweds, ya know?) and really, because it was all I knew how to make.
Honestly? The only reason I knew how to cook it was because I had made a phone call to a friend at some point. Help me, I pleaded, help me know what to do with this package of beef.
For the first time I didn't have Hamburger Helper to mix in with it and it stared back at me. What on earth was I supposed to do?
But I figured it out.
I also quickly learned that if you heat up some olive oil in a pan and drop in some spinach with a dash of garlic salt you get a quick veggie side. The beans we ate back then were dropped into the pot from a can, and the rice was really gooey and sticky -- not at all like the Brazilian rice I was trying to make. But it was rice and we had beans, there were veggies on the side, and somehow I managed to figure out how to make that simple ground beef taste really good.
This was a basic staple for us during this time. Maybe not the healthiest, but it was what we could do -- both according to our budget and ability.
This, this flashback to the beginning of our lives together, is what rolled over me last night. And I couldn't help but notice how different things are. Same pots, but a different kitchen. Same food, but a different technique. No longer was this the only thing I could make, but the one I chose, after months and months (and possibly years) without it. Even the flavor was slightly different... the rice, a little more fluffy and a little less sticky; the beans, fresh from the pressure cooker; the beef, perfectly seasoned.
Yes, things have changed. A lot. But that smell, the one that voyaged through time, made me realize that despite all these changes, the most important thing has remained constant: that man who ate each one of those simple meals with me back then with a smile on his face is the same man who applauds me and encourages me today, both in the kitchen and out of it. We may be in a different place now than we were then, both physically and in maturity, but we -- WE -- are the same. Just two kids in love, doing our best to make a happy mark on the world.
(Both pictures of us were taken during our first year of marriage.)