Cinnamon rolls always remind me of my brother. Growing up, they were a staple in our weekend breakfast rotation — Saturdays were for blueberry pancakes and Sundays were for cinnamon rolls, and consequently, Saturdays were for sleeping in and Sundays were for setting alarms. Before breaking bread at our morning church service, we had a commitment to doing so with our pretend third sibling, Sister Schubert, maker of the finest pan of frozen rolls we’ve ever had.
The rolls come in a circular aluminum pan, creating a crumbly crust around the edges and a firm division in households of cinnamon roll consumers. My brother Kendall and I held the strongest and truest opinions about which round globs of goodness should be consumed first, and it was always the center, perfect as-is without a hint of crust. The only problem was that in each batch, there’s exactly one cinnamon roll in the center and exactly two of us.
Most Sunday mornings, I’d walk downstairs only to find the center already missing. I’m still convinced my little brother was setting his alarm five minutes before mine to secure his luck. After a few failed attempts at waking earlier, I’d come to accept that my piece was destined to include crust.
I didn’t expect the Cinnamon Roll Race to last forever. I was sensible enough to know we’d grow up and move out of the house, maybe continuing the weekend tradition if our visits home aligned. It was possible that our taste buds would change and one of us would forfeit the center in favor of a newfound love for crust. Maybe one day we’d eat cinnamon rolls around the table with our own children, or maybe we’d leave the memory behind, sealed safely in our own childhood.
But these days, my Sundays back home don’t include any of those things. Now, my routine is to race downstairs, only to find the cinnamon rolls untouched. It’s my family that lost its center.