I stood at the countertop, sweat forming on my furrowed brow, and kneaded the dough just as my father taught me. Sinking my weight into it over and over, I worked in the flour until the cracks were made smooth and it felt as I remembered it should. Patiently I let it rise – three times – and broke it into small pieces for braiding. Accepting that my fourth attempt at a six-strand braid would have to do, I carefully coated it with an egg wash that I hoped would impart a deep amber shine.
Home, I thought, is in a hot kitchen made dusty with flour. Here, where cookies cool by the window and chocolate babkas wait to be drenched in sticky sweet gloss.
Home, I thought, is by the bookshelves filled with volumes collected since childhood. Here, where I scan the titles for the next escape. Here, where I stop speaking long enough to look for words worth sharing.
Home, I thought, is in the garden I’ve barely begun to tend. Here, where the flowers died before autumn, and I promised to do better next year. Here, where the mums planted as summer departed are blossoming still, lending colour and warmth to grey stone steps.
Home, I thought, is in a bedroom dotted with pictures that remind me of the places I occupied before this one. Here, where I dream of the beauty I’ve left behind and the less fully formed possibility of what’s to come.
The challah was nearly finished baking and the house was filled with the scent of so many other holidays and Friday afternoons in a home several hours away. I pulled the tray from the oven with relief. The braided loaf was golden brown, and, albeit slightly misshapen, still unmistakably round – a nod to the holiday I was hosting for the first time.
Home, I thought, is in the dining room where friends gather to celebrate. Here, where I stumble over phrases I barely understand to honour traditions that will survive far longer than these four walls. Here, where I create the memories that I will pack along with my belongings when I go. And go I will, though I don’t know when.
For now it feels right to settle in. Here, where I leave my keys with quiet gratitude on the mantle each evening. Home, after all, is in the place you rest before the next door asks to be unlocked.