Thursday, July 06, 2017

Fig leaves

S, an old friend came for dinner last night, one old enough that when I saw her last, thirteen years ago, it had been even longer since we'd seen each other then! We caught up on the intervening years in our lives and those of people we knew, and the years fell away like dominoes. In the time since we last spoke, she's walked the Camino de Santiago twice, putting my two circuits around Kailas to shame! In any case we connected as fellow seekers, pilgrims on the way of life.

After she left, I went back to my diary to confirm that the last time we'd spent time together had in fact been 2004. It was. Indeed, the diary includes a long description of the most memorable moment of our last visit together, an experience I've often told people about since: the ambrosial rapture, in a courtyard in Old Town, Albuquerque, of eating a sun-warmed fig right off the tree! But the full-body experience I so warmly remember every time I encounter a fig isn't quite what happened, as described in suitably purple prose in my diary:

we stumbled on a paradisal place, mainly selling folk art but also a few snacks—we had some (perhaps frozen) burritos in the yard, where the owner pointed out ripe figs, peaches and grapes on the trees. The figs were fantastic, wonderful, small, an effortless mouthful, and sweet and gently textured. The peaches weren’t ripe yet. But the grapes were a revelation—S said sacrament, I think. Individual blue-black grapes, warm from the sun, touched the tongue and bathed the whole spirit in an intoxicating sweetness and warmth unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

Sacrébleu! The solar ambrosia was from the grapes, not the figs! I can imagine how the memory slipped - figs are a rarity, and that was one of my first experiences of a sweet one. Truth to tell II'm comfortable mentioning this because the slippage was relatively minor: there were figs there, too, after all, and I didn't misremember it as Andalusia or Athens! But I mention it also because in recent weeks I've been noticing worse slippages, and even complete blanks. Some scholars (and not just scholars) remember everything they experience accurately. My erstwhile colleague J remembers the names of even minor characters in every trash detective novel she's ever read to distract her from anxiety about flying. My friend H remembers every meal we've ever had together, what we had, and what we talked about. Not me.

I suppose that's one of the reasons I became a diarist.

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