All You Can Eat

[Exercise: Tell me about a breakfast you were once privileged to have.]

I was expecting bland, forced-to-ripen-before-its-time fruit we’re typically served at middle-of-the-road restaurants in the United States. Used to un-sprayed, un-injected, so-ripe-it-falls-and-rots-on-the-ground fruit from Nicaragua, I had long learned to lower my expectations, especially when approaching buffet food—providing the illusion of “I’m so pretty, I taste good. I promise.” I’ve been to make-your-skin-crawl buffets, with 200-plus-pound-vulture-types returning for seconds, and thirds, and . . . who pile their plates with over-salted, over-fried, far-from-delectable food. Grandpa Daniel, in his later years, loved taking us to these places, with their cheap Norman Rockwell prints on the wall. Thin as a stick, with home-dyed, reddish, brownish, muddy-colored gray hair, he called them “The best restaurants in San Antonio!” The “just-once-every-four-years-we-get-to-see-your-granddad” guilt-trip made us keep our mouths shut, and just eat.

But, this time was different. I returned from the bar with a modest plate of fruit, a child’s portion of scrambled eggs and bacon, and Kona coffee for the wash down. It was the first day of our wedding/honeymoon trip in Kauai, barely two months after 9/11 when everything was on “special” and we had the plane and hotel to ourselves, mostly. Surprised by the honey-dripped-cantaloupe-sweetness, the perfectly-ripened, melt-in-your-mouth papaya, and the luscious-tasting pineapple, I returned for seconds and thirds, unashamed, each morning. This new experience was appropriate to mark the beginning of a life shared—a life that would break every cell of my being a-part, and build me back up a-gain, whole.