I bought a passionfruit the other day.
*The other day = a random day in August*
Back when I was living in China, part of my daily routine was sharing a fruit with my then-boyfriend while sitting on our porch. Sometimes when I’d come home from work, he’d surprise me with some kind of mango or melon. If I was passing a market, I’d always check to see if they had passionfruit because it was one of his favorites. He taught me how to open them and how to check if they were ripe/sweet, but I always managed to come home with the sour ones. Maybe its marbled into a person’s existence, like the ability to tell the difference between sweet and sour passionfruit occurs naturally and cannot be learned. The expression on his face after I admitted that I’ve never had one is burned into my memory. At first, he looked appalled but it quickly transformed into pure excitement as he realized my life was about to be changed forever. That might sound dramatic, but seriously… its not possible for me to accurately convey how much I love passionfruit. He ran into the kitchen and grabbed one of the fruits from the bag. After he used the little white spoon to open the fruit, his shoulders shimmied as he chanted “grenadilla” in a sing-songy kind of way.
Fast forward to Boston. Here on the other side of the world, these fruits are either impossible to find or ridiculously expensive so I went about 2.5 years without finding a passionfruit. I stopped at the store for some groceries on my day off, and was surprised to see them advertised at the top of the produce pyramid – or whatever you call those curated islands of fruit scattered around the produce section. All that matters is that they actually had passionfruit. The little yellow sign said “$3.99 each” which is still pricey, but I also regularly spent $4 on iced coffee so I couldn’t really complain.
That specific break-up was messy so reminiscing on happy memories was rare, but my mind wandered off as I put the fruit in my basket. I thought about those joyful memories, but not because I missed him or felt regret over the break-up in any capacity. We had several issues within our relationship and neither of us really knew how to address them. In retrospect, we both had unhealthy perspectives on what love and intimacy should look like. He was selective about what parts of me he wanted to see. He refused to recognize that I had issues he couldn’t fix so he chose to ignore them. I was actively neglecting those same parts of myself so I found comfort in knowing we could both share the same blindfolds.
Obviously this wasn’t sustainable and things got… complicated. Once I fully recognized that I did actually love him, I (abruptly) severed the relationship. I understand there’s a major flaw in that logic, but like I said, there were several issues. The positive memories of our relationship became so tangled with the chaos of our messy break-up that it was impossible to tell them apart. Finding that passionfruit in Star Market was the first time I thought about him without feeling turbulent waves of fury and resentment. I brought the fruit home and decided that I’d save it for my next day off. So, it rested on my counter for two days before I finally sat down to enjoy it.
We remained in contact for a few months after leaving China, but our conversations rarely led to anything remotely productive. A few months after moving to Boston, I wrote a poem about how he became the narrator who followed my every move as I tried to navigate my new life. His voice was always there to remind me that “everything bad that has ever happened was all your fault because you’re a shit person.”
That was one of the last texts he sent before I finally cut communication. To be clear, I understand that his actions were hostile and cannot be justified, but since context is so important, it would be wrong to paint him as the one and only villain. We were both incredibly destructive to ourselves and each other. I could’ve communicated my hesitations and fears better, but I was operating with the only tools I had. Then again, he could’ve communicated his anger in a healthier way, but maybe those were the only tools he had? Our break-up could’ve been amicable, if only we communicated more.
Break-ups are kinda fascinating to me because every time you look back at them, you learn a little bit more about you, them, the love you had, the love you actually needed, and how it influenced the love you need today. If you ever need someone to talk about break-ups with, I’m your person. I’ve sat down with guests at work to discuss them, this blog contains several posts about various failed relationships, and I’ve even spent money on an admission ticket for a Museum of Broken Relationships. (It’s actually a fun story, Here’s a link for it!)
I suppose you never fully “get over” a broken relationship because of how much of an impact they have on you. Even if its a small fling, you’ll always walk away with little reminders of that person. Every March, I’ll see ads for McDonalds Shamrock shakes and I’ll think of that one ex from high school who loved them. Over the summer, I went on a few dates with someone who immediately recognized which fire hydrants were built in his hometown. Isn’t that a strange thought? I regularly read the description on fire hydrants simply because I went on a few tinder dates. These little quirks/associations aren’t even exclusive to romantic/intimate relationships. We’re all cute, little mosaics of humor, interests, mannerisms, personal lingo, aesthetic preferences, and so on, that we picked up somewhere along the way.
But anyway, back to the passionfruit.
On my next day off, I sat on my porch in Boston and opened the passionfruit using a little spoon just like he taught me to. The passionfruit fit perfectly in my hand as I started to scoop the little seeds out. The fruit wasn’t nearly as sweet as I remembered, but I guess the ability to not pick the sweet ones is just marbled into my existence.
“I thought I’d never get over the fear of his memories, but here I am, almost three years later, enjoying that same fruit by myself and I couldn’t be happier.”
^ the direct quote from my notes app.