“One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it’s left behind.” ~ Charles Dickens
In this amazing world, there is a boundless reservoir of experiences available for us to savor through our extraordinary five senses.
Particular instances trigger emotions and nostalgia, and they both serve to teach us things; to appreciate what we’ve had, to learn from what we’ve lost, and to remember that there is still so much joy and wonder left to be unraveled.
Sunflowers stretching for the sky spark distant memories of my mother dissolving into her blooming garden sanctuary, and the sweet smell of strawberries on a hot day in June will forever immortalize my departed grandfather; but today it was the deliberate tenderness of peeling a ripe grapefruit that brought me back to someone I’ve since said goodbye to.
I was peeling a grapefruit and I thought of a lost lover.
I have this memory…it was summers ago, and we hung this hammock between two trees and lazily devoured the sun. He never had anything planned but seemed to wrangle up last minute luck, days with him were orchestrated improvisation, and I admired him for that.
Whether it was naive arrogance to assume that nothing would ever go awry, or that he truly trusted the unfolding of the moment, doesn’t matter now. It only mattered then, when we forgot a knife and he used his teeth to slowly peel back the layers of a huge, perfected grapefruit, ready to share, exposing its cute, coral flesh. Juice ran down the back of his calloused knuckles to caress his wrist. He looked up at me and laughed, “Now that’s how ya do it!” Then he shoved half into his mouth and reached out, offering the other to me like a little boy his sharing toys.
I’d never known that I could peel a grapefruit like that, that I had the option to do it in a different way, an unplanned way.
I know it seems stupid, maybe, but oranges, sure and clementines, no problem…but grapefruits. I only knew how to gracefully carve into those, to eat them piece by piece. I took it from him and did the same, closing my eyes and savoring the overwhelming, luscious tartness as it dripped down my chin, sticky fingers gracing a freckled collarbone.
He left me unexpectedly a few months later (in his true form) and it was so devastatingly painful.
What I wasn’t able to realize at the time through my grief, and not until months and months later, was that it was perfect, that I needed it to happen. I needed to fully experience the joy and beauty of a simple present moment, to reconcile that I would survive taking risks even if it doesn’t all go according to plan, especially when I love someone.
I needed to understand that I can always choose another way, and that I would love fiercely and eventually believe again.
I don’t think of him anymore, but I did today. I remembered all of these things as I sat in the sun, swathed in sticky, summer heat eating my grapefruit—half by half—just the way he taught me.
Author: Shannon Mitchell
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Jake Givens/unsplash