There were once those bountiful trees of round, red fruits, just behind that building where we grew up. Where we’d run out after dinner, barely zipping up our jackets as the chilly fall air rustled through our tangled hair and free spirits. Those ripe pomegranates hanging from above, watching us kick that flattened Sprite bottle as a football, playing hide and seek behind the neighborhood water pump. Running from the neighbor’s dog chasing us all, and where sweat and tears of laughter were undistinguishable. We’d sit on old tree stumps and catch our breath, picking a plump fruit from a tree and tasting its sweetness and tartness. When our mother’s calls would ring out from the 4th floor window, the last peeks of light leaving and the luminosity of the street lamps barely guiding us home, as we yelled a farewell to all our friends and dreamt of tomorrow.
Then there was that place where we began to call home, where palm trees overtook the horizon and the pungent smell of seaweed was present on humid days. Where coconuts lay, and pineapples blossomed. Where the ocean could be seen from every direction, and you never felt so mall in your life. Where the far away splashes of humpback whales’ tails could be seen as you waited for the local bus to take you to the next air conditioned place. Living life in a bathing suit with a boogie board in hand, where paradise reigned and no sign of winter ever lived. But there were no more pomegranates trees behind your house, only bottled juices high up on the shelf. Your new friends didn’t speak your language, but you had a real ball and large park to play in. Somewhere inside that condominium that was now home, was a box of letters and bent pictures of the neighborhood gang and the dimming light of our youth.
Then that first summer came after moving away, when Spain called your name and you booked a last-minute ticket. You picked up some Castellano and Andalucia stole your heart. A whole month of sketchy buses, flat tires and hostels. Paella at midnight and sangria in the morning. You arrived in Granada, the land of La Alhambra and Moorish architecture, ready to inspire you for ages. Browsing through the Albayzín and hiking through gypsy caves. The flag of Spain, which you had never noticed, contained a familiar plump red fruit at the bottom of its crest. The metal posts lined all along the sidewalks adorned with the same familiar fruit the city got its name from. You thought about those old days and picking pomegranates to take home, and the tiny white seeds spread over the ground, the countless hours spent playing between buildings and streets and pomegranate trees. But those old friends’ faces seemed blurry and the names were nowhere to be found.
A warm December day by Mahane Yehuda Market, tired bodies and abundant spirits after walking for hours through the Old City. Shops and markets were lively and loud, people carrying bags and checking off to-do lists, couples strolling through the streets without a care. Murals adorned the connecting alleys; its flower-like street lights blooming and blowing with the breeze. Passing through market stands of nuts and sweets, tasting as many as we could. A lonely juice stand stood in the corner selling fresh pomegranate juice for a measly few shekels, and you gladly paid and watched the young boy work. You thought of those days that seemed worlds away, where red fruits played among you and decorated your path. A flattened Sprite bottle could serve as a ball, and the thought of sleep meant no more time for fun. You remembered that life you once knew, that country that you once called yours, and those friends that you once called family. And you wondered if you’d ever see those pomegranate trees again.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michael Coghlan