Note: this memory comes from a conversation I was just having with a friend wherein we were talking about a couple of depressing things in our lives at the moment. His was more depressing and I told him, “Hey, you win!” And then he said, “Yay! The nihilists will send me a card then!” I was like “Wait, nihilists send you cards for the saddest story? They’re really fucking behind! They owe me!” To which my friend said, “Yeah, the thing about nihilist greeting cards is that they never actually arrive.”
Then, boom! Here’s this memory out of nowhere. One I’ve never told or written. And this is what I told my friend.
It’s late June 2017 and I’m standing at a kitchen sink in Antioch, California cutting mangoes. It’s dark and cool in our rented Airbnb, but outside it’s dry and bright and pushing 100 degrees. Much hotter and drier than our hometown of Portland, Oregon nearly ever gets. Our curtains are drawn, the AC is on, and my twin teenage sons are sweaty puddles on the floor, vegging out after 3 days and 900 miles on the road. Our family road trip – easily the best, happiest time we’ve ever spent together.
We’ve just settled into our new digs, having first checked in, unloaded, then run to the nearby grocery store for supplies. Fruit was on sale, so I bought as much as was reasonable, plus a little. An entire array of delicious, fresh fruits: mangoes, bananas, grapes, and oranges. A welcomed change from the heavy, nutrient-poor road food we’ve been eating. We got the groceries inside, then my sons tapped out, stripped down to their skivvies, and positioned themselves over AC vents on the floor. They’re not used to this heat. But I am.
I’m running a sharp knife over the soft green and yellow skin of the mango in my hand, gently peeling it away to reveal the bright orange meat underneath. The sticky juice runs slightly between my fingers as I peel. Suddenly, I’m hungry for this mango in a way that surprises me. Then, I remember. I remember the hunger for mangoes.