The Son of Man, René Margritte
The Son of Man, René Margritte

While walking around New York last week, I discovered that I was on a list. I found myself on the standby list for a flight that was about to take off: the flight known as life where everyone is communicating, talking, and seeing each other. I had checked out and become the person who was “busy” and “focused”– as I tuned into those around me, seeing the splendor that surrounded me, it happened. I knew that I would be welcomed with open arms into this new world, getting moved from standby to an assigned seat, and reconnecting with life. That’s not quite how it went. Oh, they were welcoming me, but in a totally different way. As I beamed my own brand of amazing, I tripped and fell into a pile of garbage.

Shopping for new lip liner.

Now, if you have ever walked down a New York street, you know we are infamous for having bags of trash out, piled high and ready to pick up. They wouldn’t show you this scene in a typical movie, unless it was a Lars Von Trier film that involved a misogynistic garbage fetishist. And you know, that might be even a little risky for Lars. And to be honest, I don’t know when they pick up the garbage. I can’t even pretend to understand the trash pick-up schedule, but that’s beside the point.

Chillin’ at the New School Grad Center

So, there I was in a pile of garbage. I remained prostrate, not wanting to get up, in fear that I would be somehow transported back to primary school whence I had my first encounter with a pile of garbage. That day was a little different, however. Instead of falling into that pile, it was dumped on me… by a gaggle of young boys. Who were laughing at me. But again, not the point! (I’m fine, really. I’m fine!)

Pontificating on the corner of 5th Ave & 15th St

As I mustered the energy and strength to emerge from the frozen collection of food scraps and soiled napkins, containers, and other human detritus, I saw something hiding between two bags. There on the icy asphalt, was a half-eaten apple.

A green apple. 

Checking out the other subway passengers

At that moment, I knew it was going to be okay. I reached for the apple, knowing that I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, and then… NO! I did not! Do you think I would grab a partially eaten apple? I have been known to make some very special culinary creations, but even I have my limits. So there was a green apple, and I did not want to eat it, but instead it was a sign to me that I was going to be just fine. I got up, brushed some coffee grounds and a crusty band aid to the ground, glanced at those who had stopped dead in their tracks, who appeared dumbfounded– unsure if they should assist or pull out their iPhones and start filming. I got none of the former, a few of the latter, and a couple of chuckles. I looked at each of them, grinned beyond recognition, and shouted, “Thank you, team! Make it a great day!” And with that, I was left with the memory (and a slight stench) of the garbage I left behind. More than that, I had the green apple. The partially eaten green apple was thoroughly embedded in my mind: a beacon of shining hope under the mound of broken dreams and eggshells.

Waiting for the train

As I continued about my day, I started noticing something a bit odd; something I had not noticed before. Perhaps I wasn’t taking the time to see it, but I began to see green apples everywhere. In the most peculiar places, there they were. One would think that this would be a bit more obvious since they are bright green, however, I never saw them in stairwells, pontificating from a box on a street corner, or in a taxi.

Having some tea to keep warm

Hidden in plain sight was the beacon of hope I needed. To be clear, I was never doubting my move, nor was I wondering what the hell I was in doing in a pile of garbage… it all, strangely, made sense. But after that mound of rubbish and the discovery of the partial Granny Smith, I was suddenly reassured that the universe, this grand idea, was looking out for me. Now, this may all seem a bit surreal and absurd, and I am not going to defend what I saw and experienced in that pile of trash, but what I can say is that there is a secret power associated with the green apple. Some call it witchcraft, others call it mysticism. While I don’t reject either of these ideas, and I have always dreamt of being a Man-Witch, I don’t think it’s either of those things. To me, the green apple has become a symbol of hope, love, growth, and evolution.

Riding the escalator on glove

Once upon a time, I met someone with whom I had an instant connection. It was doomed from the beginning, but we didn’t care. We came from very different walks of life and both had different outlooks at the time, but that didn’t stop us from going full-speed ahead. We threw caution to the wind and dove into the deep end. At the end of the day, we knew it was Kismet. I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, but until then, I was going head first.

You’re probably thinking, stop using so many damn idioms! Be delighted that I was doing it to piss you off, but again, getting distracted!

Spending some time in a creepy stairwell

So there we were, two fools in love. At least I was. And I may be speaking too readily for the other party, but we had a thing. We had chemistry; in its own fucked up way, it worked (even by it not working, it worked). It was perhaps another vignette in a yet-to-be-made Lars Von Trier indie, however, upon one of our first meetings, we discovered our affinity for green apples. It was that moment, the moment when we were in sync for a fleeting second– that was what linked us. Green apples. We both were broken, wounded by our pasts, but we wanted to be better. We thought that, perhaps, simply by occupying the same space, we might find a new existence. A renewed self. But the moments of connection came less and less, until eventually, I had to shut off that part of my body. I had to silence the beating of my heart. It is not an easy task, to deny yourself something you want, but it eventually becomes essential for survival.

Yelling at the cab driver

I get teary as I write this, because that was a time I thought the green apple had lost its magic, but then years later I was proven wrong. Understand, I don’t like to be proven wrong, I am a very stubborn individual whom likes to be correct, but this was a concession I was happy to accommodate. It came to pass that the green apple’s magic was alive and well. This special someone, with visions of green apples paving his way, recovered from his time off the road. And while we never rekindled our sordid affair, we did find in each other a support system that knows no limits. I would still, to this day, do anything for him– and he has proven that he would do the same for me.

green apple on chest
Tattooed over a guy’s heart

The green apple bonds you with those you love, truly. When you find those people who share the love of those magical little green orbs, believe in them. Trust them… And let them go. They will not always be 100% reliable, after all, we are a flawed species. But the green apple brings them back, and once you start noticing the green apples in the world, never a day will pass when you don’t see one. Even if it’s simply the feeling in your heart. 

The notecard framed on my desk