A Not-So-Lonely Grapefruit

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At Brandeis, I used to eat breakfast alone. I tended to favor earlier courses – the first ones that others eschewed – not only to avoid the crowds, but also to get things out of the way for forays into Boston, or the simple luxury of free time in the afternoon. That meant I had to get to the cafeteria right when it opened if I was to make it to my first class on time. It was nice – there were no lines, no shouting students, no running out of Lucky Charms (not that I ate that nonsense). No, I was on my first health kick then, and I only had a grapefruit and some granola and an orange juice for breakfast. Occasionally, if I allowed myself a splurge, I’d take a twisted danish, wound with swirls of cinnamon and topped with a few ribbons of sugary drizzle.

It was an austere beginning to the day, but I was very disciplined. It was within my meal plan budget, it gave me enough fuel until I returned for a lunch-time sandwich (usually turkey and lettuce on a hard roll), and I could focus on the intricate task of carving out each section of grapefruit with my spoon.

Some opened up willingly, easily parting from their skin and membrane. Others put up a fight, and I would end up with their sticky blood on my hands, and sometimes more, when they decided to be extra difficult. It was good though – a nice start to making it through whatever the day had to offer. I especially savored the grapefruit at this time of the year, when the unyielding parade of snowstorms sapped the spirit and drained any remaining good-will. In the pink pucker of their orbs, I dreamed of a Southern sun, envisioning the groves where they came from, seeing the glossy green foliage thick and dark, waving lightly in the tropical breeze.

And then I’d return to the present moment, thumbing through the Living/Arts section of USA Today, ending with the weather map, hoping for more red and less blue. The half-shell of my grapefruit sat empty. I folded the paper in half. Another winter morning was passing.

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