How to Eat an Apple, 2004

On the plane ride back from Australia, with Tahiti somewhere below me, I was given an apple in my in-flight meal. I realized in that moment I had never bitten into a fresh apple in my whole life. One cooked apple in pie, yes, one cut and peeled and dipped in caramel, yes, but held one whole to my mouth and bit in, no. In the past few years I have shed many of the strange aversions to certain textures of food I have had most of my life, and in turn have opened myself up to many experiences unlike that with which I grew up, concerning food and beyond. I marvel at how I lived so narrowly for so long.

I’ve spent much time preoccupied with personal family stories I can never learn, traditions that were not passed down, knowledge that was lost. And in the past I’ve wondered whether I would be fated to live on devoid of such influences, stripped of identity. However, I’ve realized that that which I wish had been innate in me, passed onto me, can in fact be learned; stories can be created through my experiences, traditions gathered and invented, knowledge gleaned and again found. My obsession with ritual and order is a testament to my desire for such cultural and spiritual knowledge.

Collecting can be distilled to observing. Birds at my feeder, trees I grew up with never knowing their names, fruits I never tasted, cycles and seasons I depend on are all part of these observations. This body of work is my observations, in four months of collecting, from Australia. I think of the differences in American and Australian histories, and where we overlap in terms of our environments and the lessons learned from it. Who might I have been had I grown up on that piece of land… or would I have been anyone other than myself now? Can my lessons be learned as adequately there as here?

I am bound to no such fate as long as I have the ability to learn and observe. In an aisle seat behind the wing, I closed my eyes and took a bite as I passed over the equator.