A story about the salty sweetness of connection.
We clink through the glass mason jars on the shadowy shelf in the cellar, squinting to read the Sharpie labels in the dark, and select an intriguing pint of pickles, prepared and preserved from last summer’s cucumbers we weren’t here to witness being grown. The stems of dill wriggle in the dusky brine like jellyfish tentacles. We carry the jar upstairs to the kitchen counter, plopping it next to the sink that’s spilled with sunlight from the wide, square window above it, and crack the metal lid with a knife, then take turns dipping our fingers inside to fish for soft, slimy spears of pimpled green. While we munch slowly — your turn, my turn, your turn, my turn — we whisper a deliciously clandestine conversation, craning our necks towards the outskirts of the window view to watch for anyone who might be coming, pausing when we hear a sound that turns out just to be the dog in the other room. In minutes, we’ve managed to finish the full jar without meaning to. We laugh, shake the piquant secrets and pickle juice from our wrists, leave tiny pools of it behind when we return to work. The salt, or at least the memory of its brief and bizarre delight, lingers on our tongues. … Later that day, we stand on opposite sides of fruit trees in the orchard, plucking off the leaves that have been hit with a fungal disease. The disorienting thing is that the blighted leaves look beautiful. Their edges contort to ruffles as they turn to surreal shades of magenta and maroon, shiny and lovely and alien, like they’re covered with strawberry candies. As we make our way down one row after the next, dropping stems in buckets with dull thuds as we go, we talk about our own past afflictions: the heartbreaks, the traumas, the terrible things that happened by way of other people before we, here, knew each other. Each event, now permanently stained into each one of us, can only be imagined by the opposite like a watery and two-dimensional film scene rippling across a screen. This exchange of storytelling is the giddy initiation of intimacy. It’s a process of recalibration to fresh relationship. To explain oneself to others is to reexplain oneself to oneself. To discuss a past emotional experience is to soften it, helping to fade it from its original bluster…
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