Saturday, December 28, 2013

Think Kit #28: Eating The Peel

Part of Think Kit.
Warning: this post contains shirtless photos of the narrator.

I haven't spoken to my maternal grandfather in over 23 years. In the fall of 1990, when I was six, he passed away. I can recall seeing him for the last time, in what seemed to be a nursing home. I remember the smell – it didn't smell like home. The air seemed clotted with strange things, and I didn't want to touch anything in the room. It all seemed temporal.

Time has glossed over enough of my neurons that I can't remember saying anything to my Grandfather, although I assume I shared the wisdom of a five-year old. I was really interested in baseball at the time; maybe I spouted a random Mark Grace statistic, or talked about my best friends in Kindergarten, Asher and Dan and Steve. These are all probabilities, though considering any of them feels foreign.

I remember going to a house that he lived in – there was a lofted room and a hammock indoors. In my memory, the room seems as big as a factory floor, the walls a burnished white, the trim a dark-stained brown. There aren't items in the house other than people, the loft, a hammock, and stairs. It is Summer, and the yard is hot and dry, the trees short and far apart.

I wonder what we would talk about, on the eve of turning 30. He liked driving, and cars – I wonder what he'd say to my ten years of bad luck with used vehicles. (Blown transmissions, selling for scrap metal.) Would I have medical questions? (He was a doctor back in the day that house calls were still made.) Would I mail him my latest band's cassette tape? (His father was a musician, and played a ukulele.) Would we disagree politically? (Or has my not-knowing turned him into a sympathetic character?) Would he have any other light to shed on family history? (In college, I was fascinated by his, and our, Hawaiian heritage.) What would he think of my writing? (He considered himself a writer, and left material unpublished.)

Even creating a fiction around him is hard. Decades pass and things become rigid – maybe he is too far away to get roped easily into a new story. A favorite story about him was his ability to eat the peel. He and my mom loved oranges – and after eating the orange, he'd eat the peel, piece by piece. My mom can even recall him eating a banana peel or two, although, "Those weren't his favorite."

There's a bag of tangerines on my counter. I think I'll eat one today. And try a piece of the peel.

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