Ripen and Release

In the yard of my family’s first house grew an avocado tree creeping up like a great praying mantis. We waited eagerly for its sporadic offerings, attuned to the thud of its leathery eggs against our dry California grass.

The day we moved away, I watched my parents collect dozens of these strange fruit in large wooden crates. My mom crouched repeatedly, balancing several in her cradled arms. My dad’s soft hands gripped each delicately and lowered them into the crates. Both of them seemed entranced by a strange catharsis of starting anew. Of ripening, tumbling and rolling away from their roots.

I was young then but the move impressed me like the pit does the green flesh. There was the hot plastic of my car seat, the steady rhythm of the sun-visor vibrating against the window, a large cardboard box marked ‘BOOKS’. And then there were the avocados that sandwiched me against the car door. They looked like the dark circles under my dad’s tired, road-lulled eyes. They looked like three-dimensional bruises. They looked like stepping-stones.

The hardest part of leaving that house was leaving the avocado tree. My parents remind me. Dad uses the prongs of the fork to smash the green meat into his quesadilla. Mom strikes the pit with a sharp knife and twists to lift it from its imprint.

I’m grown now. My bare feet stick to the kitchen linoleum in my first apartment as I take one of those familiar ovals in my hand and squeeze it, feeling its surface give. My knife cuts through to the dense pit leaving the rind split like an old tire. I pull the two halves apart and I spoon the insides into my mouth. I am halted by the uncanny sweetness. How similarly we ripen and release from what once held us up.

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