Day 39: Pomegranates

Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Thirty-Nine.

I dont remember when I had my first pomegranate. They grew wildly on trees in yards all California where I grew up. We’d pluck them from overhanging craggy boughs while walking home from school. Our fingertips would be stained crimson and deep sepia with the juice, while the leathery peels trailed behind us, more substantial than Hansel & Gretel’s breadcrumbs.

The smooth crimson seeds would roll around on your tongue, until it was impossible to resist biting gently, and the bittery-sour sweet juice would make your tongue curl and your eyes water. I didn’t know they were a delicacy. In my world they were a beautifully odd and free fruit there for the taking—like the apricots and artichokes that also grew unrestrained and everywhere.

When I grew up and moved from the verdant bread-basket of California, I wept the first time I saw pomegranates in the store; they were waxed and manicured and shiny and were $3 each. Same with artichokes. It was odd to me that these were delicacies and considered gourmet items and that I met people who had never tasted them. Earlier this summer, now 15 years removed from California, I found a basket of apricots grown in my hometown. I picked them up and inhaled their intoxicating scent, and then burst into tears. You may grow up and leave home, but home never leaves you.

I wish I could give these lush memories to my children. I know they will have their own, but the further I get from home, the more I realize what I assumed was normal was actually quite extraordinary.