buy the raspberries
We picked bowlfuls of black raspberries every June when I was a kid. The location of the patch is top secret. Somehow, in the abundance of our black raspberries, red raspberries seemed superior. They were plumper and prettier. My mom put them on a pedestal. “I wish we had red raspberries, too,” she said.
This is not to mean that we do not love our black raspberries. We do. I was just sure that red raspberries must taste better, although I never tasted one, nor could I imagine any berry topping the black raspberry.
One year the raspberry harvest was slim, so we contemplated buying them. They were so expensive. In the grocery store, I sometimes spotted red raspberries, but they were so expensive. I grew up and never entertained the idea of buying raspberries, after all, they were so expensive.
One day, I wheeled my cart around the end cap of the fruit section at Aldi’s and there were red raspberries on sale for $0.99. I paused. I never bought red raspberries before. I stretched to reach a pack and my back pulled. It was tender with bruises from the bedtime routine that never seemed to make sense. It was predictable. It was comforting. It was loving. Yet, our young daughter was so angry, and bedtime was always a trigger for a fit.
I brought the raspberries to my nose and smelled their sweet scent. I was surprised at the strength of their aroma. I dropped them into my cart and felt like I was doing something wrong. We don’t buy raspberries in the store.
Isn’t it strange the rules that dictate our adult lives?
The red raspberries were delicious, but not the same as the black raspberries from my childhood. I remembered the bedtime routine at the end of raspberry picking days. My mom filled a small bowl with a bleach and water mixture, and we dipped our finger tips in the bowl while Mom drew the bath.
The smell burned my nose, but I rubbed the purple and blue splotches on my fingertips. Once inside the bubblebath, I used my stained fingertips to draw watery purple doodles on the sides of the bathtub. My fingers wrinkled and the raspberry ink faded from the pads of my fingers.
My mom helped me slip my nightgown over my head. She sprayed Tame detangler in my hair and combed my curls. We settled in with a book, my brother snuggled on one side of Mom and me on the other.
Bedtime was soft and sweet, cozy and calm. It was a stark contrast to the bedtime routine I faced each night with my own daughter. The one of chaos and bruises.
It is late and the house is finally quiet. I am sitting on the end of the couch, staring at a black TV screen. My computer is closed in my lap. There is work to be finished, but I am exhausted.
Andy brings a small bowl of red raspberries and offers them to me. “Doesn’t it seem extravagant?” I ask.
“What is extravagant?” He returns my question with a question.
“A bowl of raspberries just for me to eat?” I ask.
“What else are we going to do with them?” Again, he returns my question with a question. Perhaps we are both too tired to have an original thought.
“It seems like I should make something, you know? Treat them special.”
“Stephanie is in bed; this is special,” Andy said.
It was soft and sweet, cozy and calm. I ate the raspberries. I wanted the perfect bedtime routine; the one that would nurture Stephanie in just the right ways so she would heal and become soft and calm. There isn’t a schedule that will work, any more than there is a magic elixir to bring healing to someone who is fighting for chaos and bruises.
It is rare to find raspberries for $0.99, but it is not rare to find a box in my refrigerator, no matter the season. I’ve learned to buy the raspberries. There are some things we can’t fix, no matter how much we long to do so. Sometimes the thing to do is just buy the raspberries.