Monday, February 8, 2016

The Sadness of Fruit

Under normal circumstances, I don’t ascribe any particular amount of emotional resonance to fruit,either generally or in specific, but when getting the groceries this week, adding a small package of blueberries to the cart actually made me a bit, well, blue, actually.

The stage was set for this turn of events earlier in the week, when I had occasion to pick Fenya up from work. Since the end of the Christmas break, she has worked a fairly consistent rotation of Monday-Wednesday-Friday shifts, which go from 4-8. This means she takes the bus straight to work from school, and then sups afterwards. With choir practice on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, it makes for a busy week, but she has a double spare every other morning so she is able to keep on top of her schoolwork.

It’s a short drive from Education Station to our house, but the bus routes are not very cooperative, so Audrey or myself are fine with nipping over and picking her up, sometimes dropping the Corolla off in the parking lot so we can attend a meeting or go to a movie or what have you.

The overall effect though, has been a significant decrease in the number of interactions I get with my firstborn. And as she contemplates moving out of town for her gap year in order to save for university, I am becoming all too aware of the fact that, as much as things have changed in the past year, next year’s paradigm shift in our household dynamics will be even more pronounced.

I am very grateful that despite my apprehensions about the inscrutability of teenage girls that has persisted in my mindset since childhood, Fenya and I have somehow managed to maintain a good level of open communication. Early on in my parenting, I had resigned myself to the inevitability of becoming largely irrelevant once my inability to offer meaningful insights into style, makeup, or popular music made itself known, but have been gratified that both girls still find occasion to actually ask my opinion on things.

Because of this, it was uncomfortable but not awkward to confess to Fenya on the brief drive home that, regardless of what happens in in July of this year, I’ve already begun to miss her.

There was a brief beat, then she put her hand on top of mine where it rested on the gear shift, and said quietly, “Yeah, me too.”

It didn’t really change anything, but that validation actually helped quite a bit; the realization that this important connection, although strained by circumstance, remains intact.

“But what has any of this got to do with blueberries?” I hear my ten of readers wondering. Well, nothing, really; at least, not initially.

Due to a huge project at work being implemented at the end of May, there have been a few disadvantageous impacts on my work schedule, one of which is that I am losing (temporarily, I am assured), my compressed work week. This is an arrangement that allows me to work a longer day in exchange for getting every other Friday off. I never availed myself of this benefit when I was downtown, as it would have meant missing the last bus out of the Government Transit Centre, but once the office relocated to Windermere and I needed to drive there, I saw it as a way to reduce my work-related fuel bill by ten percent while keeping the same vehicle. It’s also nice to not use up leave time for things like medical or dental appointments.

The other thing the compressed day off allowed me to do was to send all three of my girls off to their respective schools with a hot breakfast once or twice a month, and with this being Fenya’s grade 12 year, well, that is something I am really going to miss.

Thankfully the change doesn’t take effect for two more weeks, giving me one final Friday off this week, which I have earmarked for some manner of early morning griddlework.

So when I walked into Safeway this weekend to sort out the weekly provisioning, one of the first things I saw was that blueberries were on sale, and with my general inclination towards bargains coupled with the rapid rise in produce prices as of late, I initially felt that slight tingle where perhaps my ancestors’ hunter/gatherer receptors experienced the elation of a discovery that meant postponing immediate starvation for at least some period of time.

As I began picking through the plastic containers, however, I experienced the maudlin observation that this could very well be the last time I have the opportunity to make such a purchase for a weekday breakfast for four. It's a small thing, a negligible thing, and yet, it made a significant impact on my psyche.

I felt pretty foolish, standing there in the entrance to Safeway, a small clamshell of blueberries in each hand, marveling at the rapid increase in my ocular humidity, but quickly managed to put it aside. After all, if the worst feeling I experienced that day was the realization that things change, and that change often has to come with a cost, I really have no cause to complain, do I?

And yet, I had to move the blueberries to the bottom of the drawer, so as not to be reminded every time I open the fridge.

Strange world, isn't it? Or maybe it is just the people?

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