Apples and Pears

I hesitate before I bite into it—it doesn’t look very appetizing—the skin is lackluster and brown. But it’s a pear. And pears are okay.

I sink my teeth into it. I jerk back—

It is like pear, but not. Almost like an apple but not quite.

I chew experimentally—it is okay, better than okay; the best of both worlds. It is as wonderfully juicy with the same perfect balance between sweetness and tartness. And best of all, it had enough of a crunch to satisfy the sensory experience, a sound I didn’t realize I missed.

What’s the difference? The thinner skin? The fact that the crunch has a tad less of an edge to it?

Does this mean I am now okay with apples— my mind recoils. No! Definitely not.

The last time I ate an apple was a few years back.

As my teeth punctured the skin, my senses assaulted me, wreaking havoc on my nervous system. The flesh scoured teeth and gums, scraping them raw. The juice, freed from its confines, erupted, its acidity burning my lips. The clamor of the crunch invaded my entire being, striking at every fiber, every cell, flaying them to shreds.

I jerked the apple away from my mouth and stared at the teeth marks. What just happened? Frowning, I shook my head and licked my lips—and puckered and sucked air in with a hiss, cringing at the flavor. The tartness burned, and the sweetness was cloying.

But it was a Honey Crisp. I loved Honey Crisp apples; they were my absolute favorites. I loved them for the crunch, for the sweetness and the tartness. I loved the ceremony of choosing the apple, washing it, then drying it, rubbing it with a tea-towel until it shone. I always looked forward to sinking my teeth into it, anticipating the sharp crunch and the burst of flavor.

I shook my head and berated myself: this was ridiculous. I raised the apple to my mouth once more. I bared my teeth and touched them to the apple. I applied pressure to break the skin. But as soon as the surface was about to give, I recoiled and shuddered.

After I recovered from the onslaught on my nervous system, I mustered up my courage. I was not going to surrender to the capriciousness of the bloody brain.

But when I moved to pick up the apple, those teeth marks leered at me.

No. I couldn't do it.

I wondered whether this assault on my senses was yet another manifestation of my difficulties processing sensory input. But why now? It had been seven plus years since the surgeries.

I decided to give in, for now.

asianpear.jpg

In the meantime, I continued to enjoy eating other fruit—cherries, pomegranates, mangos, kiwis.

I especially loved pears. My favorites were Bartletts that were just on the brink of ripeness, juicy without being too grainy. I always anticipated that first bite into a pear as I reached for it, looking forward to the burst of sweetness as my teeth pierced the skin and released the juices.

Recently I discovered Asian pears. Not much to look at—apple-shaped with dirty brown skin. Expecting the usual mouth watering experience I loved, I took a bite and stopped mid chew. It sounded like biting into an apple, but somehow, I was okay with it.

My mind roamed as I chewed. This could be a life changer. Perhaps this was yet another another leap forward on my path to recovery. Was I becoming desensitized, my issues with processing high volumes of incoming data on the wane? What about my difficulties with apples?

The next day, I walked past colleague who was about to bite down on an apple, I shuddered and retreated. I tried to get away quickly, but I wasn’t fast enough. I was still within earshot when the sound of the crunch reached me. Shrinking into myself I sped up.

No. I wasn’t yet ready to try an apple. But Asian Pears were still okay.

Over the next few weeks, I indulged in this mouth watering new fruit—a cross between apples and pears. I ate one or two a day, slurping up the juice as I crunched through every bite.

A few days ago I walked into the kitchen looking for a post-exercise snack. My eyes lit up at the sight of anAsian Pear that sat on the counter. I washed and dried it. And without pause raised it to my mouth, anticipating the burst of flavor—

I jerked away. My entire body, inside and out, shuddered. That crunch and the flavor— I recoiled.

I spat out the mouthful into the garbage and quickly rinsed my mouth out with water.

Back to cherries and kiwis.

Dare I experiment with a Bartlett?