“What did I do, Mom? Just tell me! If I didn’t do anything, why are you acting like this?”
Mom looked up from the table. “Acting like what?”
I closed my eyes for a moment and failed at regaining my composure. “Nothing, Mom. It’s just that I thought all of this shit would stop once I got a mortgage of my own. I thought our family would sort of just grow out of this thing we’ve got going. I can’t fix a problem if I don’t know what it is.”
She glanced sideways, as though considering the consequences of speaking honestly. Her breaths drew more slowly. “I thought you were going to stop dating that Jewish girl.”
The room inflated and deflated synchronously, and I found myself chuckling at the impossibility of settling our differences.
We must be in more of this world. We must taste the Russian potatoes. Can’t you feel the Caribbean warmth on you back? Hear the calm static of the ocean? See the shore crashing violently against the waves? Can’t you taste the tahdig of Iran? Is it served with pears? Or is it eaten alone, with clean hands and dusty arms? Tell me, can you taste the sharp British yeast over the oily ink spotting your tongue? Japan will teach you to eat kudzu like a sweet bean sprout, but the American South will teach you that the east coast carpet tastes more like chemicals and pollution and (on the unluckiest of days) a hint of poison ivy. Is our fruit too plump and ripe to be held on the vine? Are these ever-expanding highways too vast for mere mapmakers? I tell you only once, fearful child: it is better to stand at the base of this fruit tree crying at the impossible choice and taste nothing but your own tears, than to step ever-further from the tree so as not to smell the rot of un-chosen fruit.