Growing up, you don’t really understand how to appreciate a thing. Most times you’re just hearing instructions and listening to what people say. Everything is simple as you are limited to basically two options: like something or do not. At least that’s how I experienced my Sunday family breakfasts.
I remember staring at my grapefruit as the last obstacle during these breakfasts. It was never the portion of food that I was excited about. I remember staring at the simple, bright-red fruit waiting for it to disappear from my plate.
Now I reminisce about the entire morning, breakfast as a family event. I remember the small bouquet of flowers sitting among my family. I remember waking up to smells like vanilla pushed through the house from the breeze coming in the open window. I remember the dusky sunlight filling the room, eventually creating a spotlight on the grapefruit I would hate eating. I remember people caring for me, spending their time focused on my needs, looking out for my best interests even if it was as simple as trying to get me to eat a piece of fruit.
Recently, I learned about how easy it is for citrus to cultivate new varieties of fruit in the wild. This simple hybridization was characterized as a delightful chaos across breeds of citrus around the world. From this simple factoid, I learned two things: how good can come from chaos and how simple it can be for something to change over time. The manner in which I learned to find good from chaos was in the way my family was always able to gather on Sundays, amid their own adult lives as caretakers and simultaneously career-focused. I could not fathom the chaos of their lives as only one of their many responsibilities but now I understand how life can be so chaotic so as to need to counteract that with good moments. For my family the good that came out of chaos was Sunday breakfast and it always included grapefruit. The second lesson - hybridization - came from my own relationship with grapefruit. Amazing how a simple fruit has managed to twist my own memories into something positive over time; funny to see how the cultivation of citrus is not limited to other fruit. Over time, I grew to love the grapefruit. I learned how to use it as a part of a meal and not only as a stand-alone item. I learned more about flavors and tasting. Still, beyond this simple fruit, I learned more about what the grapefruit stood for and how it is forever connected to weekly memories of time spent with my family.
I still don’t really like grapefruit but now I can dress it up. I can add sugar, make a simple juice or just have smaller portions. For as much as I may not enjoy this tart, bitter fruit, I recognize it’s nutritional and greater figurative value. Grapefruit is a deeper daydream that constantly reminds me to care about my needs and how to escape from the monotony of everyday life; if only for a day, if only for a meal. It reminds me to find good among chaos and that, to an extent, my ideas are cultivating into something new based on interactions with the people around me.
As an adult, I’ve been able to revisit these early memories. I am glad that I have been able to remember so much that I can understand and appreciate the full weight of every Sunday breakfast with my family. Grapefruit reminds me of an idyllic scene that is easily attainable, one that is basic in nature and allows me to add my own sense of flair so that I enjoy every part of something as simple as a meal. The faint memory of a stand-off with a piece of fruit has led to a deeper appreciation of basic life experiences, even if they don’t seem like much at the time.
The difference between a grapefruit then, and a grapefruit now, is the way I have been able to associate context with it, but I think this quote by Dutch Historian Johan Huizinga manages to convey the positive consistency about grapefruit that I have adopted: “Practically speaking, it is always yellow, always just as fresh and well served. And it always comes at the same, still hopeful hour of the morning.”
It’s hard to have such a complex series of memories and emotions contained in one, simple grapefruit candle and it’s not something that you will always remember the same way. Still, I think it’s nice to have the reminder of a deep memory sparked by an aroma that isn’t limited to Sunday mornings with the family.