About a month ago, one of my closest friends had a dream. She wandered down a long, long driveway to find a house for sale. As she explored the property, she decided it was just the right house for us. The wind whispered in the tops of the trees, and it sounded like the word “jubilee.”
In eastern Pennsylvania, we drive down a long, long driveway to explore an old red-brick farmhouse. The owner has left a printout of the home’s history on the desk in the parlor. Reading it, I discover that the man who bought the property about 50 years ago was named Charles Day. I imagine telling my father, Mark Day, and my son, Thaddeus Day, that this house is returning to the family.
We make an offer. We try not to let our hopes rise to impossible heights. We mostly fail.
We walk the quaint downtown just a few miles from the house. Jonathan picks up a flier. In September the local golf and country club is hosting a benefit for children’s food allergy research. It feels like a sign. Your son will be safe here.
That’s when we spot another sign; large, lettered, and solidly real: “Gluten-free Bakery,” it says. We push open the door, hear the jingle of the bell, and wonder, “Gluten-free, maybe, but can they also handle dairy-free?”
We taste the most delicious gluten-free, dairy-free rolls we’ve ever had. Vicky shows me baguettes. Pizza crusts. Tell us they deliver bread to neighborhood restaurants. We can take our boy just down the street for a hamburger with bun. He’s never sat in a restaurant and eaten bread. Never.
Then. Oh, then. I almost cry. Unprompted, Vicky wipes the rice flour from her apron and says, “We can make birthday cakes. Gluten-free, dairy-free. Birthday cakes and cupcakes.”
She doesn’t know about the last cake. All those special ingredients. All the time. For a shared birthday cake that looked lovely and tasted awful. Not even the six-year-old, accustomed to the taste of rice flour and bean flour, liked that cake.
“Where are we?” I ask Jonathan. “What is this place?” Both of us with eyes wide.
It’s time to eat. We decide to skip the hamburger place. We can always go there with the kids, we know. Let’s try the Italian. We’ve never stepped foot in an Italian restaurant as a family, know we never will.
Jonathan opens his menu and says, “Look.”
I stretch my neck, see where he points. “What kind of small town is this? A u-pick apple orchard a few minutes in one direction, a gluten-free bakery a few minutes in the other. What is this place? Heaven on earth for the Purifoys?”
The menu says proudly, “We serve gluten-free pasta!”
Maybe, just maybe, this place is home.