Noodles for Longevity

Noodles for Longevity

My best friend from Chicago makes a point to eat noodles for new year’s, a tradition that Andy and I will now uphold when without the physical presence of her pancit.  The noodle represents longevity in life.  Last night we enjoyed rice vermicelli with a spicy-coconut peanut sauce.  As I ate my noodles, I missed my friend.  I missed her in the way that I know she is only a phone call away- but that we will never be best friends in Chicago working at Planned Parenthood in our early twenties again.

I have first memories of noodles.  In the first house I can really recall- 801 West Pine street in Johnson City, TN.  In the mud room off the kitchen, my mom had set up broomsticks across the counters and the laundry drying rack.  Again and again, we would feed slabs of eggy dough through the pasta machine clamped onto the edge of the kitchen counter.  The kitchen was a burnt orange and dark blue with plaid and quilted patterned wallpaper, in the way only the early eighties could have made manifest.  I can still smell the dough, a clean smell of possibility and creation.  And when cranking out the noodles from the machine, I remember holding my hands out as if for benediction- as if receiving a wafer of communion or catching a small baby.  The noodles, still soft and pliable, were laid all the way up to the soft underside of my arms, ending at my upturned palms.  Then the short, attentive trip to the mudroom delivered the noodles to dry on the racks.  I can still hear the pasta machine cranking and turning.  I can still feel the pride of being entrusted to help with the pasta.  This memory makes me ache for my mother in the way that I know she is only a phone call away- but that I will never live in her house as a child again.

With a body coded for survival and fight vs. flight, I marvel that we are able to  trust, to turn up the soft undersides of ourselves and to be loved and entrusted.  It is a wonder that we still cherish soft and vulnerable things.  I ache for the auld lang syne, for what will never be again.  But the possibilities that extend forward into the future are pliant and new, albeit delicate.

Make ready to receive a world, to catch it with the soft skin of your arms,

a world

in which you know you deserve blessing

in which you know you are a blessing

god love us

and as for longevity, if life be long, make it a life that is not hardened or stale, but one that remains pliable and soft, trusting and receiving.  And where you see hardness, know there is a soft underside of things, waiting for communion and benediction.