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I cut into the watermelon, and I want to go back so bad. Back to the days when summer was hot but not brutal, when happiness drove me. When I swagged into the kitchen at my grandmother’s house, thumped a watermelon onto the Formica counter, and cracked a sharp knife through the rind.

It was the summer after my second year of law school, my first summer clerking for a law firm. I was young, only twenty-three, living with my Bigmama in downtown Jackson, and I was on a watermelon diet. I think that was the name of the book, “The Watermelon Diet.” In those days, you bought hardback books containing the latest fad diet. For this one, you ate watermelon. The theory was watermelon was high in protein (not true). Plus, it filled you up. I ate only watermelon for, I don’t know, nine days. Then gradually added other foods back in. If I remember correctly, I stared with bread. Or rolls.

At the time, Bigmama wasn’t the only one living in the house that we called 505 for its shorthand address. My Uncle Hebron was there, too. My peculiar diet was happening in the communal kitchen. Everyone knew about it. I was heavy that summer. My mother would laugh at this description, but I can tell you, when I married two years later in 1983, I weighed 112 and now weigh 116. Not that summer. Hence the watermelon.

I did not love law school. For reasons I’m not sure about, I was very unhappy there. But I loved that summer. Loved my law firm, loved working there. Loved living with Bigmama, loved being back in Jackson. At that point, the trajectory of my life was a high arc. That’s what I remember, not being worried about my weight. The watermelon raises happy memories. Hebron teasing me about my strange diet–he had never experienced anyone eating so peculiarly. The huge bowls of melon I ate. The light, clean smell of melon, happy as the future.

I know one reason I’m heavy with grief, missing that summer, is that we’re selling 505. It hasn’t been easy and, for the most part, the difficulty of it has shoved aside the grief. But every once in a while, something happens to surge the grief to the surface like an underwater volcano. Today, it was the watermelon.

An old-fashioned bedroom with the door to a side porch open. Elaborate transom window, hardwood floors, and puddling blue silk drapes. No watermelon present.
The bedroom where I lived for three months during my watermelon summer, cleaned out for sale.

nostalgia, watermelon diet

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