Is it a way of doing things, an immutable way we learned when we were very young, a way we copy all our lives because it feels right?
Even now, I still stir the flour for gravy with a bit of ice water before I add it, using the old crooked fork with its pitted tines that reminds me of my mom’s unconscious smile when I helped out with unsure hands in the steamy kitchen.
Someone might lie awake in the early morning hours remembering their grandfather’s voice when he showed them how to set the oak station clock to chime on the quarter hour. The room seeped with brown cigar smells, a garlic and chili pepper cloud rose around the bare bulb hanging from the yellowed ceiling.
There is ritual you began on your honeymoon. A toast, maybe a Kier served in a tall glass. There was view of green Atlantic and a row of skimmers riding the wind with their clown faces and identical black beaks slicing the top of the swell open to reveal silver minnows, or water gods.
You want to do it your way, but instead you do it your dad’s way. You tell him his way is better even when you don’t believe it. You lie out of deep love.
What if it’s not a lie. What if now is the time to shed who we think we are in order to find our truth, the one that feels right, the one we pretend we invented ourselves, that we borrowed from all those who came before us.