There were many things I missed when I moved to Israel:
But more than black lace push-up bras from Victoria’s Secret, more than skinny jeans from Old Navy, more than Amy Tan and Kurt Vonnegut at Barnes and Noble, more than ginger whiskey shots at Bigfoot West, more than mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundaes at Baskin Robbins, more than pho and sushi and OMG MEXICAN FOOD, I missed mangoes in the produce section at Albertson’s:
A paradise is what it was, that rainbow space just beyond the bread aisle.
Heaven, really. Perfection, never changing:
Seasons came and went: Cut out ghosts and spider webs floated across the candy section. Holly and tinsel decked the aisles. Boxes of matzoh and Peeps popped up next to checkout. And BBQ sauce went on sale next to a big old American flag.
But the produce aisle never changed, and there were always mangoes.
Smooth and firm, no dimples, no rotting spots, these mangoes were perfect always and forever, airbrushed, botoxed and ready for their closeup.
Sure, the prices might jump and drop, but mangoes were always in season.
My immortal beloved.
But we don’t roll like that in Israel. Everything has its season, and each season has its thing… and I learned this lesson the hard way during that first winter in Israel when there were no mangoes.
At first, I couldn’t believe it. Surely they were here, somewhere. Maybe near the cucumbers? Nope. Ok, maybe by the apples? Negatovry. Maybe under the clementines? Nada.
And then I got pissed. I mean W.T.F. people. How DARE Israel DENY me of my MANGOES.
I even tried bargaining with the produce guy, not my finest moment to be sure: “Come onnnn, you gotta have one in the back somewhere… I’ll pay extra!”
“It isn’t time for mangoes,” he said. “You’ll have to wait.”
So I left, dejected, beaten by the winter, my shoulders slouched, my eyes downcast.
It was a long, cold winter. All the leaves were brown and the sky was grey… (and the sky was grey) The rains rat-a-tat-tatted the roof, and every walk outside was a race to the nearest radiator.
But I’ll tell you something: That was the winter I discovered clementines. They were ah-may-zing. Just sweet enough, just sour enough to be perfect… And I filled my basket with them, I’d peel back their skins and divide the parts equally between the kids and me each day after preschool.
But the bin got lower through the season, their skins became mottled and dull, and I measured time in their numbers, until one by one, they were gone.
It was like how it was with the mangoes all over again, people.
The clementines, they gotta be in here somewhere.
$&#dkajf2@% where are my CLEMENTINES!!!
Maybe there’s one in the back? No? Please check again. Please. I’ll pay extra.
But then summer came, hot and heavy a breathing down my neck, and one day I walked into the grocery store, and there were the mangoes.
My kids and I did a happy dance and we filled our basket and enjoyed every single bite.
To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.
And I’ll tell you something. I enjoyed mangoes more that summer than I ever have. And when the mangoes disappeared and winter rolled around again, I enjoyed the clementines more than I ever have.
Because when each thing has its season, you make the most of it, until the next one.