My stomach felt uneasy. Or was it my breath? Maybe my elbows were slightly ajar, hanging awkwardly away from my shoulders. My macaroni and cheese didn’t taste the same at dinner. Bland. But it was the same brand.

We had a new sibling. And the air of excitement was affecting my taste buds. I hadn’t yet met this new (and most likely unruly) creature. I was looking out the window, waiting for the call to hustle into the driveway’s station wagon. The safe, familiar tone of my Grandma’s voice echoed up the stairs.

The drive to the hospital was short. Short enough to bike I told my Grandma. She didn’t have a bike. Besides, we had to bring mom and dad and baby home with us.

The hospital smelled nice. Most people didn’t like the smell of hospitals. “They smell like sickness, like dying,” I heard people say more than once at baseball games and in the line at the grocery store. I thought (still do) that hospitals smelled clean. They smelled like you could eat macaroni and cheese off the floor.

The baby smelled nice too. I was jealous. “She smells better than me,” I said. Dad laughed. Mom looked too tired to laugh. “We just gave her a bath,” she said. “I haven’t had a bath in a week,” I said. My mom looked at her mom, pleading: Can you please give him a bath when we get home?

At home, the baby wouldn’t stop crying. Mom started to cry too. Grandma had to help stop the crying. Dad must not have heard that I needed a bath because he said we should go get ice cream. I agreed but I was worried that my taste buds still wouldn’t work.

“I missed you bud,” said my dad when he handed me my cone. “I missed mom,” I said, with the honesty and matter-of-factness of youth. Dad laughed. “She missed you too.” That was enough reassurance for my taste buds. My cookies and cream tasted as good as the hospital smelled.