Antique Friends, Makes Me Sigh


Small4cherriesjpt Cherries are in season.  Cherries as gorgeous and red and decadent and as seductive as any apple in Eden there ever was. I saw them at the store and brought them home. I rinsed them under the cool water of the tap and then without even bothering to turn on the lights, I sat down alone in my kitchen and ate them one by one. 

It was May of 1991. I was 31-years-old. My first husband and I, along with another couple, were in Europe. When you decide to take a two-week car trip with another couple, you know it will either go very well or very badly. The stars were aligned. The four of us spent two carefree weeks tooling around Paris, Aosta, Milan, Montreaux, Florence, Nice and Monaco having the time of our lives. We went to all the famous museums, walked along the shore of Lac Leman, stayed in a castle and sunbathed in Monaco. Things happened on that trip that are hysterical to us, but would be puzzling to others in the retelling.

Towards the end of the trip, as we were making our way back to Paris, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand in the French countryside. We impulsively purchased a bag of cherries – lovely, juicy, plump, fresh French cherries.

As the four of us sat under the shade of an ancient tree eating cherries and spitting the pits, my senses were unusually electrified. Every sensation was magnified. Perspiration, perfume and car exhaust riding the currents of the morning breeze, the blue of the sky and the blood red of the cherries, the gravelly French accent of the vendor, the laughter and chatter of our group, the humming of the nearby traffic. All of these sensations combined into a crystallizing moment in time and lodged into the cool deep of memory.

I remember being acutely aware of the moment, as though somehow outside of myself. I remember thinking that I always wanted to feel as intensely alive as I did in that moment. In fact and detail, eating cherries on the side of the road is an insignificant event but it represented one of those rare moments in life when all seems well with the world. I thought it would be like that forever, the four of us.

Three years later, my first husband died very suddenly. Soon thereafter, our friends divorced after more than twenty years of marriage. The photos of Provence are boxed up and stashed away. The memories have been swept up and put away as well.

Nothing more remains of that one morning in May but the sensation of cherries.

24 thoughts on “Cherries

  1. Great post! What you’ve described is Virginia Woolf’s quintessential “moment of being.” She wrote about this extensively in her diaries and letters, and such moments are sprinkled throughout her fiction (in Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and To the Lighthouse specifically.)

    I have one that I’ve always wanted to write about. It was April 1990 and I was 21 years old. I was walking through a university park in Oxford, England with my then-boyfriend, a broody British type. (He was blond and green eyed and gorgeous as the day is long…) It was a perfect, perfect day, with masses of daffodils blooming everywhere. I was wearing a straw sun hat with a big brim. I always think of the hat for some reason, when I remember that day. It’s the little details you focus on!

  2. A bittersweet memory. C.S. Lewis said that when a loved one dies, we not only lose that friend, we lose all the things s/he brought out in our other friends. I sometimes think the same is true of the death of a marriage.

  3. I cannot get enough of your writing – it’s as delicious as those cherries. You’ve got a great talent!

    This post gave me goosebumps. I thought of C.S. Lewis, too, in Shadowlands, his wife Joy tells him, “It’s the sadness then (in the future) that makes the happiness now.” That’s a TERRIBLE paraphrase, but I think your cherry moment is especially beautiful because of the heartache that came after.

  4. Great post. I have read CS Lewis a lot lately, especially is book, “A Grief Observed” due to the loss of my child.
    He touches on minutae that leaves you thinking, “Yes. That’s it!”
    Thanks for sharing that. Your pictures are beautiful, btw, and I enjoy your blog. Great writing!

  5. I have memories like that. They don’t come around very often but when they do they are as vivid as they day the happened.

  6. I’ve been reading here, getting to know you with no strings attached I guess you’d say. This post definitely warranted a comment though it was wonderful. I like your writing style.

  7. Tears have clouded my eyes. Some friends and I just took dinner to another friend who lost her husband this week-end. Your post gives me hope for her and her two boys.

  8. I am so thankful for “cherry moments”…after losing someone precious, the memories fade in spite of our longing to keep them vivid. Once in a while, a reminder such as your bowl of cherries sparks some of the vividness that has faded, and it can be lovely to linger in the memory for a little while. Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart.

  9. Europe has a way of imprinting itself on a person’s soul. I don’t know why. I loved your post, because it took me back to a similar time in my young married life. Except for me it was a crazy little French bistro that looked like a cave and the waiter sang “Oh Champs Elysees” to us while he strummbed and acoustic guitar. We were so carefree. All of us young and newly married….sigh.

  10. I found you through Code Yellow Mom. I’ve never read your blog before, but this post just grabbed my heart and moved it into my throat. What a beautiful memory. I’d like to come back and read more.

  11. …eating cherries on the side of the road is an insignificant event but it represented one of those rare moments in life when all seems well with the world. I thought it would be like that forever, the four of us…

    I have a memory very similar to this one with another couple–eating steaks in old farmhouse/restaurant hidden down country roads in Southern Arkansas. Now the other couple is going through horrible marital trouble and we don’t expect their marriage to make it past Christmas. Last night I pulled out old photos of our friends from happier days gone by. Your post really summed up what I was feeling. Thanks.

  12. May daughter brought me cherries today. The sight and taste and smell threw me back to my childhood. Funny how we think it’s the big events we’ll remember but it’s really the smallest of things.

  13. The more literary think of Lewis and Woolf; I think of Bombeck and the classic “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?” This is a great story and the telling is, as always, perfect. I got waylaid from your blog for awhile because I forgot to update your new site in my Blogline, but that has been rectified. I’m glad to be back!

  14. What a beautiful post…you have a great talent. I’ve been reading your blog for about a week and I love the way you write about your life experiences. Thanks for sharing.

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