“Hey, honeydew isn’t even that good,” or “Watermelon tastes better,” my sisterAustinassured me as I talked to her about honeydew the other day while she prepared supper and texted her boyfriend James. I have been eating Watermelon since the 90’s. Its saccharine taste and hard seeds gives me headaches. With honeydew, something so new, I feel like just one portion could take me to the decadent halls of Oheka castle and then back again.
One evening, during Memorial Day weekend, we went to a Waldbaums for groceries. Inside people weighed and wrapped in disorder over the hums of running industrial vents. The supermarket was freezing. Maneuvering the cart the best I could my sisters and I went up the aisles. On our list was basil, pasta, peppers and pork tender loin, but no honeydew. So I passed heaping piles of it and did not notice how they hardly had any discoloration or scratches. These whole honeydews probably watched me pass and then as my family and I checked out, silently giggled to themselves as the misters went crazy around them, soaking the asparagus bundles. Looking at it all now, honeydew and what seems to be my entire world is in on a running gag.
My sisters, cousin and I love going to Westhampton beach to swim in the huge waves. A strong current caught me though in May right before lunchtime as I swam to the shore. Its force threw me around underwater until I thought I lost one of my nipples against the seafloor. As I sat on the shoreline holding my arm against my chest I watched the tides go out. My mother prepared a platter for us back home, honeydew among the mix, yetLong Islandwas beginning to feel like an actualIsland. I had not built a sand castle in years. Montauk or “the End” as I have heard it been called, is the only place onLong IslandI have never been. I was invited to spend after prom there, but then was kicked out by a fragrant group of girls.
I returned home fromIowaafter my summer session at college, where I lived off over-seasoned chicken and white rice for eight weeks. You would expect I ate some honeydew in my spare time, but chilled lemonade is what I drank by the gallon to combat that summer’s harsh drought. In LaGuardia’s baggage claim, my father and mother helped me get my checked bag from carousel 3 and told me in the car how they had put our house in Setauket up for sale. I knew my parents would eventually retire and choose our beach house inSouthamptonas their final residence. At this point in my life, where hometown friends are off enjoying what fruits the world has to offer, it was a welcomed change.
We got toSouthamptonaroundmidnight. Through our wired screened door I could hear my cousin and her fiancée laughing. My other sister Kirsten held her boyfriend tight, as she talked to me. She bought an apartment with him inHuntingtonwhile I was away. That made me happy. Both my sisters played with my long hair. Then poked where they thought I lost weight within those eight weeks. As they filled me in on what I missed, I saw more and more where my family was headed. Everyone was going places.Southamptonwould be the constant that held us all together.
I can see my Mom inviting everyone out for a cloudy weekend in March, just before the start of a long summer. The house in Setauket is sold. We will have a big dinner of chicken and risotto or just ravioli. I already graduated from theUniversityofIowasix years ago. My eventual girlfriend is sitting right next to me, laughing at the bad jokes my father cracks from the head of the table while my uncles drink full glasses of red wine. From the kitchen my mother will walk in with a plate of honeydew. I’ll let the others eat it, while I wrap my arm around my girlfriend’s chair and kiss her on the cheek. After dinner, when everyone gravitates towards the living room and zones out, I’ll put on my rain coat. Together my girlfriend and I will sneak out the front door and drive east down Montauk highway until the ocean stops us. Under her hands will be a tuber wear full of warmed honeydew. We’ll eat and watch the fog move out over theAtlanticwhile the waves hit along the coast. I’ll look into her eyes, satisfied with my share of the honeydew and wherever she will take me in life.