In college I realized that I liked grapefruit and it changed my life. I had read in a cheery health magazine that grapefruit was special for its "anti-inflammatory properties." This sounded like a good thing, so on my next grocery adventure I purchased two grapefruits: one at Whole Foods and one at Kroger. Maybe fancy grapefruit is better, I thought, who knows.
The next morning, a cold morning, I sliced the Whole Foods grapefruit in half. I was more worried about wasting this one and it did actually look fancier and specklier in an interesting way. I carried one half with me on the way to an early morning class and stowed the other half in an almost-too-small ziploc bag. I flitted along the brick collegiate walkways with the kind of bounce in my step that I imagined the woman on the cover of the cheery health magazine had after she ate her morning grapefruit.
The problem was that one half of a grapefruit is nearly impossible to eat if you're not sitting down with a great deal of focus and brandishing a fancy spoon that is manufactured for eating grapefruit and nothing else - something the magazine neglected to mention. I expertly circumnavigated this problem by shoveling my front teeth and thus my face into the open grapefruit as if I were a pie-eating contestant or barbarian, because I was not NOT eating this grapefruit. This process was, as you can imagine, messy and difficult. It was also very cold, especially on a cold morning, to baptize myself in grapefruit juice that I wasn't even sure I liked at all.
But then my slow morning-brain, slave to more negative thoughts (the complications and logistics of eating a large fruit object so early in the morning, harsh winter morning climate, no gloves) finally responded to the urgent announcement from my taste buds which in silent alarm were freaking out. I liked the grapefruit. I loved the grapefruit. Every bitter memory passed hence, and I, a barbarian without a grapefruit spoon, sat down on a bus stop bench to devour it and the other ziploc-ed half at my leisure. Perhaps the grapefruit is a thing I had grown to love or perhaps someone somewhere up high flipped a switch at that moment, just for fun ("Ha! Catherine will like grapefruit now! Let's watch this blow her mind"). Either way, it's my favorite fruit now.
Argentina is not a grapefruit. It's a big country and I haven't tasted it before. I'm going because I know there are so many things out there (in the province of Corrientes and beyond) that I like that I haven't even held yet. To think that a grapefruit was something I had tasted before! Imagine the possibilities that lie among the things I'll experience that, as of now, I could not even conjure up!
EB White wrote in The Elements of Style: "If you don't know how to pronounce a word, say it loud! Why compound ignorance with inaudibility? Why run and hide?" In two weeks and approximately two hours I will fly to Argentina: not to run and hide but to be myself but somewhere that's new. I will travel, tutor English, practice Spanish and maybe learn to speak it fluently. I will meet people and experience places and I'll probably miss versions of home: my dog who is old and deaf and can only hear me when I'm holding bacon, my friends when they're not just a snapchat away, but at my side and patting my back. I'll miss my mom asking if I wore my retainer last night, and the smell of my dad's hats. I will not understand a lot of things I hear but I will try, and I will understand more by the end.
For those without a grapefruit spoon who wish to eat grapefruits on-the-go without scaring others, cut it into eighths and keep a wet wipe at hand.
And as a rule, the Kroger ones are just as good.