It’s been a while since I’ve been bloggin’. But I write and so here I am. Putting out what I’m thinkin’.
For today it’s about some stuff that’s been on my mind.
Like egg salad.
This morning I craved egg salad. I had two brown eggs left, and had bought rye bread at TJ’s the other day. I really like egg salad but it’s not something I eat often. As I waited for the toast to pop and added Kosher salt to my egg in a bowl, mashing it around with a fork because I was too lazy to find the egg slicer, I had a quick “therapy speak” moment, wondering: do I love egg salad because of nostalgia?
I have a memory that cannot be corroborated. This is the problem with most of my memories from my childhood life with my mother. She died when I was five. Any interaction we had together that I recall, I must rely on my memory, which is remarkably good. But it’s the memory of a child and harkening back to our toddler and post toddler days is a long way to go. We know memory can be something else sometimes. Notion, dream, delusion, or the facts are just not exact. Like…the coat was really red, not purple. It is no longer real. Memory is elusive, not concrete.
Mine though is photographic so there are, nonetheless, several images in my mind of my time with her that I do call memories. Many of them are sad, because she was often sick, sleeping, dying.
Some are just a picture. A slice of life scene from our day to day.
I remember an egg salad sandwich as my lunch on my first day of pre-school. I remember being alarmed that I was being sent somewhere. My mother said you are going to school.
I was mad, scared. I remember the panic-filled morning when I was startled out of bed in the house to which we moved several months prior. Mommy had decorated my room in a bright pink white and celadon floral wallpaper with a pale pink chandelier in the middle and we stood there next to the big double bed, in the pinkish glow of light fro the chandelier. Mommy put me in white Osh Kosh overalls which I had never seen before. They were stiff and awkward and very white.
“You are going to school today.”
“What is school?”
Why was she sending me away and not coming with me?
“All kids go to school. You will learn and have fun.”
This was an utter break from our routine. I had never gone anywhere in the morning like this.
I don’t remember the act of going into the classroom. The teachers I would come to love, the playmates I would befriend, but hours later, I sat at a small table with a small wooden chair under fluorescent lights, and self consciously observed my egg salad sandwich in a plastic baggie in this curious packed lunch arrangement.
I do not think I liked egg salad. I did not particularly like eggs. I recall—distinctly–that I threw up in an IHOP parking lot in that same era, after my mother insisted I get an omelet instead of my favorite smiley face pancake with a pineapple mouth and cherry nose.
“You need to learn to eat other things.”
I was livid, disgusted. The omelet made me gag and I felt robbed. I don’t remember eating it but I’m sure I did. Because I remember throwing up in the parking lot.
I doubt egg alad became a staple lunch for me. I don’t think it did. Because for some reason I remember the egg salad as something new — that and the white Osh Kosh overalls — on that first day of school.
I seldom ate egg salad growing up after she died. I ate scrambled eggs and sunny side up eggs when my dad made them, and soft boiled eggs because my grandmother ate them daily because she had dentures and had to eat soft foods. I sometimes tried to make an egg when I was a little older. But generally, I wasn’t much of an egg eater, until as more diet conscious teenager, ate egg white omelets at the diner with my girlfriends.
But egg salad. Not much. My dad probably liked it but nobody made it. Trudy our housekeeper didn’t make it. And Daddy was always warning me about mayo. It wasn’t something I’d pack for lunch since we didn’t refrigerate our lunches at school. That wouldn’t be safe.
It is still not something I seek out. It is seldom appealing, often disappointing or bland. It has to have the right amount of salt. It can’t be the consistency of cottage cheese. But it is something I crave now and then and when that comes, I have to be the maker.
Like this morning.
And this morning, I remembered again that moment when I was three and a half or four and my mom was getting me ready for school. Maybe I even asked what she packed for my lunch while she helped me dress.
Indeed, each time I remember that moment now as a grownup, I add questions. This morning I wondered why she chose egg salad. Did she give it much thought? Or just whip up what we had in the fridge? I don’t think I’d ever even eaten it before so it wasn’t like she was sending me to school on my first day with my favorite lunch.
As a Filipino who had only been in the U.S. for about 5 or 6 years, she packed me a very American lunch. She could have been like other Asians who sent their kids to school with sharp smelling mystery dishes in fish sauce. But Filipinos are very Americanized too. They are very into mayo-based salad. I don’t remember anything about subsequent lunches. Or even about other details about that lunch. Apple juice? Desert? I just remember the eggs—that one sandwich, that day, my first day of school, my first day of independence.