I've written about listening to kitchens before, but I just realized how much I love the sounds of people making things. Teenie is in our granny-smith-green kitchen right now, stirring yellow cake batter in concentric circles. This is like hypnotization. The fork brushes the metal she's got against her hip, the thick liquid swishes like melted ice cream ever so slightly, the pan clinks on the counter, the oven door creaks open, the pan clinks again, higher-pitched this time, her socked feet sashée towards the sink, and then the water trickles itself into a pool with a leftover batter perimeter. Her index finger taps out the minutes on the oven timer, punk-punk-punk, and then, this is the best part, she starts to make another yellow cake.
This is like when you're getting a massage, and you're thinking, please don't be over yet, please don't be over yet, or when you get somebody to brush your hair while you're watching TV, which Carol still does for me, and you can't help but ruin the perfectness by the thinking that the tranquility of soft sounds and touch will inevitably come to their tragic end. Or when little kids play with wooden toys, really softly, and whisper secrets to you like "this is where the cowboy hangs his hat." This is that feeling, of being close enough to the concentration of others that their measurements become mine, too.
I started researching the history of massage at work yesterday and found that touch was the first form of medicine. In 2500 bc, the Egyptians created reflexology, 776: Olympic athletes were massaged for the first time to enhance muscle performance, 90 bc: acupuncture was born, 1564: Lord Francis Bacon realized that massage increased circulation (and the smell of his last name, too), 1879: Douglas Graham brought it to America, and in 2008, I melted into stretchy skin during the best professional massage I've ever had (three, to date) and then I asked the masseuse if I could stay for awhile instead of getting dressed again.
My uncle's girlfriend had cancer in her lymph nodes. She danced her fingers up my arm to show me how her lymphologist pulled all the impurities out of her cells by his fingertips, and how she got better for a while, and would feel this complete peace after having her tissues compressed and expanded and gently spoken to by someone else. She wore these long gauzy sleeves for months. She said she believed it was the most moving form of therapy she had received since she was diagnosed. I believe it.
Teenie is spatuling out the bowl, and the whole house smells like pink birthdays. She brings me the remnants and I get to eat a shining spoonful of batter. This is delicious, I am thinking as the bowl goes into the sink and the oven opens and the second pan bumps down on the cutting board. More quiet sounds. More massages. More cakes, please. Such peace.