Seven women, two oranges, and one Metro bus. They don’t appear to speak English, and they are spread out through the front seats. The ladies peel and pass the fruit, giggling. The woman in front eats each section with a look halfway between a grimace and a smirk. It must be one of those oranges delicately balanced between sweet and sour. I admire the party they are having as they travel, and I can’t remember when I’ve taken the time to enjoy a piece of fruit as much as this group of ladies is enjoying their oranges.
The scene has shifted. I look out over the internal landscape. Cubicles stretch in all directions, their marauding ranks stopped only by windows and walls. I hear typing, and somewhere in the distance, a phone call. There is no other sign of life. My newest e-mail pops up on the screen—someone is having a birthday, and there is cheesecake on the table down by the boss. The hidden masses emerge from their cubes. There is laughter, and chatter, and joyful camaraderie where moments before all had been silent. I join the herd, and am happy.
Later that day I am in a café. I have an hour before my dance class starts, and the way the busses run I can get to the neighborhood too early or too late. I choose to arrive too early, to savor the drizzle outside from my window seat. Here I’ll sit with my spicy cup of chai. I hold this portable hearth with both hands. The crumbs on my plate are the only evidence that a bagel once sat there. All around me people are relaxing. A couple flirts in the corner while students laugh over their textbooks. The baristas are teasing each other while they steam milk and pour coffee. The air is buzzing with energy, and it’s not only coming from the caffeine. I set off for my swing dance class, refreshed.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
120. Food is supposed to be fun. The next time you eat something, take time to notice all the sensory delights of the experience without worrying about anything else. What exactly about your food is so delicious? If it’s not delicious, why are you eating it in the first place? If you are in public, watch how others are interacting with their meals. Do they have something to teach you?