Everything In Its Place

Peppercorns rattle as I push past a fresh packet of red chili peppers.

We always kept those on hand to finish the dhal. Red Chili peppers, garlic cloves, and white cumin seeds dropped in scorching hot olive oil and drenched over a simmering pot of chick peas.

Our kitchen wafted with sautéed onions and oil thick in the air. An Indian dinner meant an afternoon spent together, gathering ingredients and creating rich delicacies.Wedding Day 2002

My hand wraps around the cobalt blue jars–one full of garam masala; the other chili powder.

A gift from my older sister, these glass canisters are some of the only matching items in this burgeoning cabinet.

She once adorned her entire kitchen, in the crowded two bedroom apartment she shared with her husband, in cobalt blue.

She’s always been one for making a room look coordinated.

I’ve always been one for making a room feel full.

Maybe she could use the canisters now. Now that he walked out on her, leaving her to decide what was real and what was not.

Perhaps I should just throw them away, walk away from them in a practice of leaving things behind that aren’t useful anymore. A practice I need.

I certainly don’t need the stale ingredients. I packed these up with the rest of my kitchen, the rest of my house, when I moved 200 miles back to where I came from after my husband and I quit pretending we weren’t hurting each other.

Back in the cabinet, a speckled line shows where tiny fingers dip in unnaturally bright condiments.

Brushing aside sprinkles and dinosaur-shaped candies, I locate what I’ve been seeking.

I’ll make tandoori chicken tonight.

I still use the spices, the kick. The man, who brought me into another world and another world into me, took some away but added a little too.

A little spice, a little kick.

Of all the things he chose to leave behind, the one thing he took the day he officially left was food.

 Food was the thing that brought life into our home and with it often judgment and anger at our differences or my inadequacies. Sweet, salty, bitter.

When we split, we divided the stash of Shan mix boxes. Half, half. I have at least half of my half to create meals lingering with memory.

I clutch the box, replacing peppercorns and sea salt, cobalt blue canisters of stale spices, and the half-empty jar of edible jewels back in their carefully chosen spots.

A balance necessary to keep everything in its place.

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