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My bubble

In red ink, my father marked a sentence in The Early Asimov, Volume I

About a year ago, I climbed an active volcano. A week later, it erupted. What felt like two days after that, a hurricane hit that very spot. Calamity follows in my wake and coincidences like these that have prompted many a friend to suggest a bubble wrap bodysuit would be an appropriate birthday present for me.

Lately, I have learned to revel in a different kind of bubble wrap. It is a bubble that forms at night, in the absence of conflict, fear or worry. It is a bubble of joy and it tastes like scrambled eggs.

It usually starts with leggings. When I was living in the United States, websites instructed women that, in so many words, “leggings are not pants, please cover your rear end.” In my bubble, away from sartorially-trained eyes, leggings are pants enough.

My bubble involves pages of Zadie Smith and Mary Oliver, read on the couch, in leggings, while waving away mosquitoes with the hand that is not holding the book.

I interrupt Elijah’s reading to point out we have only each had cereal for dinner. The cereal was packaged in Greece, rendering it the only item in the grocery store I can read with utter certainty. Somehow, that made it tastier. No matter where cereal was packaged, it will never count as enough dinner in Elijah’s eyes. This is a recurrent theme: When I am wrapped up in work, or writing, or Zadie Smith’s words, my stomach does not grumble. The rest of the world melts away and hunger does not register. And when it does, cereal or celery sticks or popcorn will do. There was one summer during my college years when I lived in a room with no air-conditioning or kitchen. I credit that summer for my tolerance of heat and blame it for instilling in me the skewed sense that baby carrots and canned baby corn count as dinner.

After too much time in opposite corners of the world, and after I got hit by a truck, Elijah and I found ourselves sharing a closet, a kitchen and a life this fall. Elijah was repeatedly exasperated with my inability to ask for help while I recovered form my injuries, while I slowly found glimmers of joy in lying in bed in my nightgown at two in the afternoon, eating the omelets Elijah made for me. And the pasta. And the schnitzel. And, and, and. Elijah’s food became part of my bubble.

My ribcage is no longer shattered, but Elijah remains the cook between us. Culinary talent somehow did not squeeze into my Greek chromosomes. I make tasty coffee, and cereal, and popcorn, and I can put cilantro on almost anything and call it “flavor”. So when I asked Elijah tonight if he’d like some scrambled eggs, he put his book down and earnestly asked,”you can make scrambled eggs…yes?”

Luckily for both of us, I do. My bubble today involved scrambled eggs consumed in bed at midnight, with some sauteed onions, garlic and mushrooms… and a dash of cilantro. You know, for flavor.

My bubble involves comfort, and laughter, and love, and a pinch of nostalgia. Elijah is reading a book he picked up at the house in which I grew up. The Early Asimov: Volume I belonged to my father. My father was a chemical engineer, a lover of astronomy and the cosmos and science fiction; naturally, Asimov was his guilty pleasure. The book was purchased in the 1970s in Kozani, in the periphery of Greece. Reading it in Beer Shevah in 2011, Elijah found a mark on page 112. The phrase my father had underlined read: “nothing is so weak that it cannot be strengthened.

The scrambled eggs in bed at midnight, the can-do optimism of the sentence in the Asimov book, the remembrance of my father and the recognition that of all sentences, that would be the one that stayed with him — that is the stuff of love and comfort and nostalgia that makes up my bubble today.

11 Comments

  1. OMG this is so precious!! I love your bubble concept. I think there are so many who never learned how to build one for themselves. These people need your post. 🙂

  2. I feel like I want to live inside your bubble…except not yours, I need to find my own bubble. Though truth be told, it would also probably include scrambled eggs and cilantro 🙂 We’re on the same boat right there.

  3. Mary, I go through those phases too! When I am very immersed in a project, I forget to eat, drink (or shower, but shh…). However, there are days when I begin thinking about dinner at breakfast. Today is certainly one of them!

    And take your time in writing back to the email; I have loved our correspondence chain!

    Kim, I am glad that my optimism brought some lightness to your day. Your own words, thoughts and writing have that effect on me very often and I am most grateful for that. I hope your days are getting better and brighter.

    Marjory, when Elijah told me he found an underlined phrase in the book, I had no doubt that it was my father who singled it out. I am so glad it resonated with you; it is, indeed, a beautiful and fiercely optimistic sentence.

    Brandee, Elijah and I hope to meet you one day as well. We are both immensely grateful for our bubble and try to recreate a little bit of it every day.

    Lisa, I am so happy you stopped by the blog! I hope your pregnancy is coming along smoothly and that you are able to find all the comfort, sunshine and optimism that you need in the remaining months of it. I will be keeping you in my thoughts!

    Akhila, I have found a fellow enthusiast who forgets to eat when she is excited — I am thrilled! Elijah is not impressed with this trait of mine at all, but – like you – I consider it a sign of true passion. That is how I know I am truly engaged and that I truly care. I am glad you visited the volcano-related posts; that was quite a time in my life… I still miss the view of the volcanoes from my front door in the morning.

    S, thank you for your kindness. Your writing on the doves still travels with me.

    Michelle, I will forever be grateful to Pacaya and that very small, very bumpy shuttle on which we rode for hours together. The beginning of a beautiful friendship indeed. Now let’s hope you and I can enjoy a Jay and Elijah cooking expedition in the near future? My love to you and your husband.

    Thank you all for your kindness – there would be no bubble without it.

  4. 1. Pacaya = ridiculous…this post brings me right back to that steamy, rocky other-worldly mountain and the lovely towns surrounding it. That region of the world is, of course, also where I met one of the coolest, most inspirational friends in the back of a bumpy ride through the country;)

    2. Cooking = Jay is also the cook in our house. For the first 2 years of our marriage I went through a series of emotions (jealousy, frustration, embarrassment, resentment, hurt pride, determination) until I resigned to the fact that Jay not kicks my butt at cooking but loves making food. So while he crafts delicious basil pizza dough from scratch and the smells waft into my vicinity, I hold my head up, do a meticulous job with the laundry, and thank him with kisses!

  5. Lovely; I think you know you truly love something or you have found your passion when you can keep doing it for hours on end, getting so immersed that you forget the rest of the world 🙂 I feel most energized when I’m so deep into something, whether reading, writing or working on an inspiring project, hopeful for the future – so hopeful and excited that I cannot sleep, forget to eat!

    P.S. Saw your volcano posts- quite an incredible experience you had there!

  6. I really like your writing Roxanne! I’m so glad to have found your blog. I love the nighttime bubble too. Especially the one where I crawl into bed in a cool, dark, room at the moment. Six months pregnant = getting more and more tired.

  7. What a lovely, lovely bubble. It produced sigh of contentment within me, knowing that you have such a loving place. Someday, I hope to meet you, and Elijah…if only to get to spend a few minutes in such a peaceful bubble.

  8. Dear Roxanne,
    I can so relate to your beautiful words.Our inability to ask for help sometimes cripples us. I love your father’s underlined phrase. It rings true in my heart.

    “nothing is so weak that it cannot be strengthened.”

    I love your bubble, the sacred space you kindly share with all of us.

  9. As I read this I felt my eyelids drawing down, my head tilting to the side, a little ghosty smile growing. What a dreamy bubble. It’s good to know that you have everything you need for it at your disposal.

    In my heart I thank your father for that sentence, which is doing me much good after a difficult day. It’s full of the best kind of optimism.

  10. Roxanne, your bubble sounds like a wonderful place and good or you for reveling in it. I’m jotting down that quote to take along with me and to pass it on. I also am storing away your post about friendship & love and storing those messages, too.

    I loved reading this post, and going back in time with you, too. I am left with the warm fuzzies. As always, thank you for sharing this. Lovely.

    Now, onto the subject of food…

    I really wish that every once in a while my stomach wouldn’t grumble. I’m the kind of girl who thinks about dinner as I prepare lunch! My stomach grumbles all the time and it’s not because I’m hungry, but because I cannot get the idea of eating food out of my brain! Ben, on the other hand, sounds just like you in this respect. Food doesn’t even register when he’s involved in a project.

    Much love to you and Elijah, Roxanne.

    (and, p.s. i will write you back–i’m really working on it! 🙂 )

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