I have always been a bit of an apple biter: ones with red flesh from Washington state which taste of berry more than apple for some strange reason. Envy’s with their poison apple-red skin, old fashioned granny smiths, green and tart, or woolly braeburns with dapples and rough brown spots; tropicalist Pina’s with juicy flesh that don’t taste right at all, and rising-sun-red and bamboo-green Fuji’s, the right balance of verdant and crimson, that sit beside Pink Ladies in their sweet perfection and cloying overcoats of bubblegum colors. Sometimes you get a treat, a stray Cosmic, or something equally as exotic which achieves the right balance of sweet and sharp and crispy but bitable. If I had been in the garden, I would not have lasted two minutes: I adore pomegranates almost as much as I love apples.
My vacation is taking the form of doing things I enjoy, so when I saw a perfect pear-apple, a Japanese ‘nashi’, golden and round, rough skinned and ripe for the eating, I purchased one of them, took it home and cut it into six equal pieces. They are way too expensive here in the United States. I pushed three of the slices towards the Boy, and kept three for myself. The center of the nashi is sharp and bitter, but the outer is honied and drips so much juice it needs a napkin to eat it without staining the cuffs of my favorite white oversized button-up shirt. We sat there and listened to Duke Ellington hit the keys, his band as tight as a band has ever been. They were “Reminiscing in Tempo”, circa 1935.
In a moment I was standing in Higarigaoka Park, the Duke playing his natsukashii sentimental journey, holding the hands of my two perfect babies as they tottered along eating ice creams with bear faces picked out in candy upon them, little halloween cups and spoons, giggling and resting their heads on me on the train as we meandered home. The tempo of the train wheels on the tracks, the sound of their slow sleepy breathing, the motion of three hearts in time. I bit the apple, Eve. I knew what happiness felt like for a moment, and now I have to live with the knowledge that it is gone and it won’t return. It is gone and it was and when it was it wasn’t even perfect. I still had to go home to a man that was trying to kill me, and a cupboard that was mostly empty. I knew it, and loved it and now…now….
Now there is just me and a strong boy with a strong back and strong arms that pushes the final slice of pear apple towards me, telling me that he has had enough, with a smile on his face knowing that he will get many more chances to suck the juice from life, and I am just about done.
And the band plays on. Duke Ellington knew a lot about tears it would seem. Lifting and falling, holding and moving on, and letting the notes fall into place eventually, an exercise in just about, almost, maybe then that gorgeous resolution. Even in 1935 it would appear that there was something to wistfully remember. And now? Now? With this slide into authoritarianism, with this descent into identity politics, with this walk with the flock or get the social-glock to the temple, this agree or be damned. Herd mind or please mind the gap, and realize that the train is cancelled, kaput. Done. There is no room for disagreement, and it is not a world that suits me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am far far from bowing out, I will live just to spite the motherfuckers. I will breathe just to irritate them, but I fear I am outmoded, outdated, last season’s model, a discontinued style. I fear there is not much of a plae left for me. So if you don’t mind…there is this train….it has smart blue clean seats. People are staring at my children who are neither quite This or That, and me who is none at all, and the little stuffed toy in my hands sits uselessly barking as I fail to realize that it won’t ever be ok. It won’t ever be safe. It won’t ever be truly perfect, but instead perfection will exist for me in moments and fits and spurts of life that crystalizes and gets trapped in the amber of a moment that I will never have again.