I remember certain teachers, ones so astonishing in their habits (sneaking a flask from a desk drawer, clutching a pearl choker against a pink neck, jump-roping upside down on a trampoline) and so bewildering in their appearance (too-tight too-short plaid pants, lipstick smudged and staining, ill-fitting toupee) that I can still conjure up their voices, their faces, their presence. Most intensely memorable is my third-grade teacher who had it out for one boy in particular–”You think you can be fresh with me, young man,” was her hourly call, at pinched high frequency matched only by the burn-red tipping her cheeks.
I think of the bottle of rose water that my mother would bring on the plane, allowing me one spritz during our final descent into whatever; of the store on Newbury Street that sells soaps and lotions – we accidentally gave a neighbor the same gift three Christmases in a row; of the geranium-scented laundry detergent lingers on clothing and socks and sheets; of reaching for a loaf of bread at the grocery store and finding that it is still warm; of a smart retort and my mother’s chiding “don’t be so fresh”; of an empty notebook, waiting to be filled…
In Middle School, we began to split up. The general division was boys and girls, but there were subdivisions — girls who were growing up and girls who were still just girls. The boys stayed on the line between childhood and puberty, and they were silly and funny and played games like boys do. But their new-found hormones made them interested in us, too. They’d innocently pat us on the back while trying to unhook our not-yet-there bras and laugh if they thought they had succeeded. We just thought it was stupid, all those children trying to get fresh with the girls.
The Co-op is my safe haven. I walk in and suck in as much warm indirect light as I can. The broccoli has little tufts of leaves sticking out its stalk. Some thoughtful employee has made fresh ginger tea for the customers to sample. I have some even though I have the same tea in bulk on my bookshelf.
It’s not so much that the produce is organic and un-sulfured- but that I can cruise the aisles doing a slow hip roll. Being here is a gentle experience- unlike the linoleum and smudgy eyed teenagers checking you out at Shaws.
fresh. clean. like brand new socks that you wear under your kicks. and you are feeling fine. because your jeans are dark denim the kind that hug your hips and roll off your ankle into a perfect flare. fresh. slam. like a new favorite t-shirt. the kind that makes you feel sexy because. it is just simple like you can throw it on and wear it out and you feel like it holds your fuego in its seams. fresh. hot. like having your nails painted dark dark deep royal blue. like your eyes and you wear them on your sleeve like your style.
Fresh vegetables were what I craved for two months in India. While some of my travel buddies had no qualms with munching fresh tomatoes and lettuce that just happened to be served on their plates, I stayed clear of them. I watched people crunch on green produce with envy and resorted to my cooked breads and lentils. The upside: I never got sick. The downside: I became obsessed with open markets and could never indulge in the rainbow of vegetables.
Upon arrival in Munich, Germany, in transit from Delhi to Paris, I bought heaps of greens. I had it all.
At Middlebury College, we do not call them “freshmen” anymore. They’re “first years.” We’re very sensitive to sexual discrimination here, you know. Also to racial discrimination. We’re mostly good with that by now, though – we all pretty much got our fill of African American writers writing about race in high school. Of course there is certainly value in There Eyes Were Watching God and God’s Little Bit’s of Wood (What about religious discrimination?). The problem is in lack of diversity. I have a friend who goes to Wesleyan. He calls them “freshpeople.” I think he’s joking, but I’m not sure.
Fresh deodorant – leaves mixed with natural spring water and spicy scent. It burns the inside of your nose when it is smelled directly, your nerves feeling the cool and then warming sensation. My locker room, it is sprayed with deodorant, covered – thick. Sports pads and sweat dominate the scene, and the spray does not kill or mask, but mixes the smell into something new – damp, moist. My eyes burn when I open my bright red locker, kids shouting – happy to be done with classes – and making jokes about teachers, girls, and epic stories. Everyone laughs in unison.
The plates sit crusty, caked together. The dried macaroni and barbeque sauce from a week of diners melds together and glues the ceramic dishes into one multicolored array. The loose silverware clinks merrily on the hard surface, unaware of the filth they swim in. One spoon is less fortunate. It lies in a congealed mash of ketchup and mashed potatoes; I think permanently part of the Chinese pattern. The stale smell stacks up and reminds of the many meals eaten in this kitchen. Fresh laundry battles to overpower the stale smell that permeates the walls. Just how strong is Febreeze?
Mmm… nothing tastes better than fresh watermelon on a balmy summer afternoon. Summer has always been my favorite time of the year. It far surpasses Christmas in my book. I usually start craving the freedom, heat, and lack of homework in January or February. I’ve had enough of the snow and I’m ready for my usual summer routine. Lounging, in the sun, of course. Shorts, tank tops, swimsuits, flip flops are the required uniform rather than the stuffy oxford shirts and wool skirts of high school. Schedules are there, but not filled with classes and studying. It’s my time. Carefree.
Wonder how to survive in the summer heat? Make a fresh!
-Despite the rays of the scorching sun, make a trip down to the fruit market. Scour it stubbornly to find the fleshiest oranges and grapefruits.
-Panting, go back home with a bag full of orange and yellow aromatic balls. Cut them gently in halves and squeeze them in a jar.
-Put the heavenly drink in the fridge to cool down.
-Pour some of it in a tall, thin glass. Decorate the rim with a slice of orange and dip a straw in the juice.
-Suck this liquid pleasure. Relax!