I greatly enjoy sitting down on a bench, or if it’s humid outside, a comfortable chair, and enjoying an apple. It’s a couple of minutes to stop moving, to hear the satisfying crunch of teeth into the wet flesh of fruit, and relish the natural sweetness while quietly observing the motion of people around me. Will the apple crumble and fall on my shirt, and taste more like a pear? or have a more pristine, while texture that contrasts the red skin. Those sort of apples seem to have a thicker skin, so there is a slight delay between the moment when my teeth hit the surface to piercing through the papery shell.

Today, I indulged in this moment, and allowed my senses to become hyper-aware of my surroundings. As I was carefully rotating the object of my affections and watching a group of middle aged Sunday Duke tourers pass by, I noticed an older gentleman grinning at me upon approach, continuing to stare, and upon realizing that I was uncomfortably aware of his attention towards me, he smilingly mumbled €œfruit, eh?€

And in my mind I first responded with sarcasm, €œthat’s right, an apple is fruit, you creepy potato chip,€ but then my next mental response to him was €œbut it can’t just be any fruit.€

In this moment I was finishing up the consumption process, after taking care of all of the skin the flesh came next, and then the goal was to not miss the smallest piece, because that would be pretty wasteful. And then a particular face filled in my mind’s canvas. In that moment I realized that every time I sat down to have an apple, exactly at the end, I thought of you ,Stokes, how you carefully showed me many times at track meets or during lunch at school how so many people €œfinished€ apples prematurely, leaving behind so many good bites on the core, and how you could actually eat the entire thing until it was this spindly string of a stem attached to some seeds. And how you had a particularly Stokish way of doing it, and how I love your Stokish ways. And every time that I have an apple, without failure, I think of you. My experience of eating an apple is completely intertwined with experience with you, and with our friendship. Every time I sit down to have this apple experience, I am spending time with my best friend, assuring myself a moment in the day for you, because when distance makes the real you impossible to be with, the mind is a powerful tool for bringing us together.

So here is an ode, to Stokes, and to apples, but if you listened carefully, you would see that it’s really not as much about the apples. I think that we live and breathe particular experiences and rituals to connect us to people and memories that we cherish, and keep a little of the past, or the currently unreachable, in the present. And to Stokes: although I can’t be sure of most things, I want you to know that you can always be assured of our friendship, and that you are important to me, I miss you, and will always be my iso!

€¦and as soon as the apple is maximally consumed, and I make the decision to stand up, find the nearest trash can, and continue the motion of my day, all aspects of the experience end. But that’s not so bad, because I know that I will indulge in a similar moment the next day, but potentially with a new location, and certainly a new apple that won’t reveal itself until the first bite is taken, and most importantly, a quiet moment with my best friend.