Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blackberries break on through

by Stephanie

So I’ve now been in this country for close to two months now. 54 days to be exact. It’s so hard to really explain to you over the internet what it feels like to not live in the US, to not be constantly surrounded by the comforts I think are home. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I really have nothing to compare it to. Even my update newsletter, which is supposed to be this grand sweeping exegesis detailing succinctly exactly what I’ve been doing for the month of September, is pretty shoddy because it’s just so hard to describe the sights, the sounds, the smells. Oh the smells. They run the gamut from freshly fried “donuts” right outside our apartment in the morning to garbage...lots and lots of garbage. Everywhere, everywhere. Okay, not everywhere (as evidenced by the photo above), but do not be deceived; there is a lot.

But what comes most to mind right now is something I received right before I left home way back in late August. You see, I’m kind of picky about the types of fruit I will eat (and up until now, most berries have been on the no list), and so when I discovered last summer that I actually enjoy the gentle sweet/sour flavor of the blackberry, I felt victorious and freed from my former habits. Modesto blackberries are awesome. And these berries taught me a few lessons before I left home this past August.

One thing I’ve noticed about blackberries is that inevitably a few of them will bruise and smoosh in your bag/bowl/fridge. These are the softer, riper ones. They are also, as I have found, dramatically sweeter than the firmer ones, and infinitely more wonderful in my opinion. To be frank, my life is a little bit of a mess right now. Somehow, the harrowing questions of What I will do with myself next year? and How I will go about doing that? eclipse the beauty of the moment, this year in Asia. There also exist the strange little things that creep around in the burrows of my heart that whisper, What if you’re not ready for that? or Seriously? (That one is more prevalent than I would like.) Add to that the utter confusion that generally accompanies one’s entry into a foreign land completely different than one’s own, and I can say that my life, right now, feels like it’s taken a small beating. I know I’m better for it, though. (Process of growing up, I see you! Don’t even try to hide.)

Another element of growing up is learning how to be fully responsible for the stuff you have to do. Sounds easy, but obviously since the vast majority of people are still incapable of doing this, I have wiggle room. The night before I left, I was in a frantic rush trying to pack all the things I should have tucked away about a week before (procrastination a giant barrier to the aforementioned element of growing up). My mom knew what a difficult time I was having trying to wrangle a year’s worth of belongings into a mere two suitcases. So when she showed up in my doorway with a bowl full of consolatory end-of-summer blackberries, I started to cry. Not the heaving sobs type, but the pathetic tiny sniffles that mean only one thing: I am not going to see my mommy for a year, and I will miss her.