Apples to Apples

What are apples? Ever tried asking and listening as people try to explain as best they can? Are they yellow? Red? Green? Orange? Round and bumpy? Smooth? Think about it: how can you describe an apple well enough that your description, mere words alone, becomes a viable substitute for the real thing. But… until you hold one in your hands and wrap your fingers around its taut cool, smoothness and its aroma lifts as you hold it up to your face… until you hear the crispy snap when you sink your teeth in and pierce its skin and the crunching rip as you pull a chunk of its flesh off… until you taste its zinging juices at the back of your tongue, you have no clue what ‘apple’ actually means. How could you? Words alone cannot replace the actual eating of an apple. They only create the desire to have one.

I was so young and impressionable. At first I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. I was young. I was empty and blank. They used lots of words. Words that had no context — or definition — at such a young age. They talked about it a lot. Everyone did. Everyone always does.

Years started adding up and I learned a few things. Some things I wish I could unlearn and drop into the nearest black hole. Still, everyone talked about it. “Oh just wait. There’s no rush. You’ve got time. You’re so young.” But somehow, somewhere in the æther of my life I lost my patience and thought it was a good idea to go searching for it… I’d help out God or fate, or coincidence (calculated or otherwise) by doing something about it… anything. Anything was better than wasting time waiting for the right moment to find it, right? Or for it to find me.

I asked almost everyone I knew what it was. It could only be described to me through skewed perspectives, most of the time with jaded eyes. They’d say it’s like this or that and each new description made it harder for me to piece it all together. Some were so passionate; made it out to be breathtaking; extraordinary, like nothing else on earth. They would reminisce about it and their eyes would talk about how they lost theirs somewhere, some time ago and the memories — those brilliant instant films turned obfuscated, curling Polaroids stashed away in shoe boxes, breaking back down to the silver halide dust they started out as — would harbor deep, sleeping regrets suffocated, overwhelmed by joy and fullness. And… and then others made it out to be hell on earth with so much anger and distaste. As if their regrets were not at all from losing it, but from finding it in the first place.

I’d write about it a lot. Mostly asking questions which never got answered. “What if it was right in front of me and I missed it because it didn’t look or smell or sound like I thought it should? Or like I was told it would? Or like the fabricated blend I unknowingly created from my own dreams and fears and selective facts determined it could?” Spent a lot of time second guessing myself, being paranoid that I would screw up my chance to find it.

It… Hmm. I didn’t even know what to properly call it, that thing people always talked about.

I spent a lot of time searching for it and I never found it. I wasted my hopes and dreams and pieces of myself on things that I thought looked like it, but as with all mirages: they seemed so convincing from a parched distance through the heat waves across the sands of time spent in haste. My convictions and heart and efforts and attachments dissolved into piles of salt and dirt and pain. My soul blistered by fruitless expeditions. Relentlessly searching for that which I could not accurately define.

Then, one day it found me. It dropped into my life, like Newton’s apple. The clouds turned to concrete, fell from the sky and landed on my head, crushing my silly scientific sense of being and narrow algorithms and equations for how life worked or was supposed to work, letting my heart think through the noise and fuzz of all those years of people talking about it and twisting and distorting it. People told me it would happen like that — that it would happen when I least expected it — so I reserved myself to be least expecting it all the time. Which really didn’t work. Until I was actually not expecting it.

Like Newton’s apple, she dropped into my life. Everything made sense. Clarity. I remember, about 12 years and 2 months ago now, when God placed before me the thing I grew up hearing about and searching for and that thing I spent way too much time fruitlessly trying to find on my own. It was like all that seeking and breaking and hurting and learning was given purpose. When the time was right, and it — the love and sharing of life with someone and the sense of belonging and the sacrifices of self for another and the unspoken novels written in glances thrown across crowded rooms and togetherness, oneness — was presented to me, I’d recognize her for what she really is: the apple of my eye.

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