My childhood in Seattle was marked by weekly trips to the Pike Place Market with my parents. This was before it was the tourist mecca that it is today, when the little coffee store across the street was just a cool-smelling shop with a big mermaid on the sign. My parents knew many of the vendors–I can remember hanging out behind the counter at Don and Joe’s Meat Co., the big butcher shop that once in a while would have an entire pig’s head in the display; I remember always stopping and visiting with John Solid, the block-print artist whose images of animals graced our bedroom walls; and I remember the childhood crush I had on one of the produce guys who sold us our weekly fruits and vegetables.
On Saturday, Doug and I took Mercy and Aaron to the closest equivalent we could find: the Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica. Once a year WIC recipients receive $20 worth of coupons that can be spent at Farmers’ Markets in the city, so we told Mercy that we were going to the special market to use our “tickets” to buy some fruit. When we got there, I was immediately struck by something: I had forgotten what normal fruit looked like. Now, we can’t afford to shop organic in the grocery store (not that there is a plethora of options here in the hood anyway) so I have become accustomed to seeing fruit that is large and shiny and uniform. I was amazed at the market by how small and unique and flawed real fruit is; fruit that has been grown without pesticides and the like; fruit that has been allowed a natural maturation process. We bought tiny apples with amazing crispness and flavor, some lumpy peaches that taste so sweet, and some funny little pears that we have yet to try.
The other day, Doug and I were in an airport waiting for our luggage (in a city that will remain unnamed) and Doug commented about how refreshing it was to be in the midst of normal people; people who are not artificially plumped and tucked in all the right places; people with faces that are allowed to frown; people who look unique in their God-given colors and features. People who would, by most standards given to us, be considered unnattractive.
We are accustomed to being surrounded by “beautiful” people here in L.A. And yet how toxic, sometimes literally, is the process of becoming that way. And how bland the end result can truly be.