Today, when I went to the kitchen at work to make lunch, I leaned into the refrigerator and broke into a huge smile. I pulled out a jar of green pickled tomatoes, and found myself instantly transported into my Nana’s kitchen.
It was 1977 again in Los Angeles, and there I was, sitting at Nana and Papa’s warm, inviting kitchen. I was wearing pigtails with curly cues and munching on cookies while Nana relished in her green pickled tomatoes. She was teaching me to play Rummikube, and we were gabbing about school, about clothes, about sculpting and playing. Now, she was teaching me the multiplication tables, and helping me to do my math homework.
Standing in the kitchen of my Gush Etzion workplace in the year 2011, that one jar of tomatoes threw me back to Monte Mar Drive, to warm summer nights, to the laughter and love of one Nana and Papa, to the constant stream of family visits and playful days, to “ladies” nights when Nana and I would pretend to talk in fancy language and to pamper ourselves, to slumber parties, warm hugs and constant laughter.
I stared at those tomatoes, marveling that I hadn’t seen a jar of this sort in 25 years. And marveling at how quickly one squishy green tomato with its sour scent can bring back an entire childhood in one glimpse.
And as I ate my salad, sprinkled with green pickled tomatoes, I thought about Nana, about how quickly the years fly, and about the impact that loved ones continue to have on us far after they have left our side.