The avocado. Since moving to St. Louis, I have never appreciated the avocado as much as I do right now. Always took them for granted. In California, they are so plentiful. In St. Louis, they are rare. The other day at a deli- I asked for avocado for my sandwich and they looked at me kind of funny. Then I asked for hummus. They looked at me even funnier.
Growing up in Southern California, we had a very large avocado tree in our backyard. We had avocados all the time, pretty much year-round. My Dad loved the tree and he loved his avocados. My abuelita from Mexico City on one of her trips out to visit had literally thrown an avocado seed into the ground and then over the next 20 years, we watched that little tree grow and overtake our backyard. My abuelita passed when I was pretty young so I grew up thinking that tree was a symbol of her watching over us, even though she was physically gone.
Some of my earliest childhood memories from when I was about 3 or 4 years old, I associate with my abuelita and abuelito from Mexico City. Even though they’ve been gone for 30 plus years, there is a deep part inside me that has held on to them. The reason is because when I was that age, I went to visit and stayed with them for a full month- without my parents.
Frosted flakes with a Spanish Tony the Tiger on the cover. Cafe con leche- so sweet every morning with my breakfast. Cold ceramic floors in the morning. Milk that tasted really funny. She wore an apron literally all day, every day and her hair in a braid down her back. Going with my abuelito to watch Heidi on the big screen. His love and protection. Visiting the marketplace and the food vendors. The colors. The stench. The overwhelmingness of it all. Huge blocks of cheese just sitting there. I refused to eat cheese for 10 years after this. City smells that combined diesel fumes, grit and human sweat. The zapateria that sold patent leather mary jane shoes with lace ankle socks. Honking cars, round-about intersections and busy one-way streets. You had to hold on tight or else. Mexico City in the late 1970’s – in all its glory. A four year old girl with her abuelitos. I wish they had seen me grow up. I wish I could have seen them grow old. Instead, I’m left with memories and a few photos and birthday cards. I will never forget that time, them and the person it helped me become- a lover of big cities, city grit, exotic tastes, smells, colors and people, anything foreign. A traveler of life and adventure. For all this I thank them. For I have traveled further than they could have ever imagined.
Now- can someone from California please ship me some avocados already?