One of my favorite treats is pitted dates. I never really ate them growing up, so when a friend bought a big container as a “thanks for letting me crash on your sofa” gift, I was blown away at how sweet they were. It was better than any candy bar I’d ever had.
Since then, I’ve considered it a special treat to have a small container of pitted dates in my kitchen cupboard for those times when you want something sweet. One is enough to more than satisfy my sweet tooth - and I have a serious sweet tooth.
A few weeks ago, I reached for a date and as I bit down, dramatically yelped like I’d been poisoned. In fact that was not the case. Rather amidst my pitted dates, was a date with a pit.
I should pause here and say that I wasn’t a “pit” person growing up. I didn’t like plums or oranges or cherrys or other fruits that people insist you “just have to eat around.” I pick the seeds out of the watermelon before I eat it and the concept of not accidentally swallowing or choking on a seed or pit is just totally lost on me.
So imagine my horror when my date has a pit. Of course, because I’m a little (a little) more grown up now, I toss the pit in the trash can and enjoy the rest of my date. Though I was a little thrown off and didn’t find the same satisfaction from the date’s sweetness. I was too grumpy about the pit betrayal.
A couple weeks after that the pit incident has completely left my mind and I, once more, reach for a date as an after dinner treat. Another pit. This time, I’m a little more rehearsed. I throw it out and think about how there’s got to be a metaphor in there somewhere.
Then, the other night, I reach for a date. As I’m taking my container off the shelf, I’m thinking back to two dates that had pits - and what the moral of the story is. I pluck a date from the sticky corner and wonder for a moment if it might have a pit. It doesn’t and I sigh with that almost relief of something so unexpectedly perfect.
As I’m leaving the kitchen, it suddenly hits me. Because I buy pitted dates from the grocery store, I expect the dates in my container to be, well, pitted. I take for granted that little asterisk that warns that there might be exceptions to the rule.
And when I crunch on a pit, I feel confused and concerned. This isn’t what I asked for or wanted. I didn’t sign up for this; I bought pitted dates!
But something has happened in my frequent trips to the date jar. I’ve recognized that you can plan to eat pitted dates. You can even buy pitted dates. You can put them in a container for all to see and say “these are my pitted dates!”
And you still might get a pit.
The entire world, it seems, is on lockdown. This might be what you’d call a pit. The coronavirus pandemic was one big crunchy pit in the middle of a sweet date. It cancelled weddings and birthdays and travels. It took people’s jobs and incomes and health. It ended the beautiful lives of over 100,000 people worldwide and counting.
And even if we watch the news and read the reports, we didn’t want it to be happening. We didn’t expect a pit. We were living. We were soaking up the sweetness of a date.
So now what?
Now we social distance. Now we check in on the elderly and immunocompromised. We call our neighbors and our family. We are gentle with ourselves. And we stay home. We stay home so that one day, we will be able to leave home.
Man, we are in a pit.
But one day, we will be able to eat that date. We will hug our grandparents. We’ll go to the movies with our friends. We’ll take our parents out to breakfast and get drinks with our partner. We will go back to work - in an office or a store or a restaurant. There will be concerts with singing and dancing with strangers and sporting events where the biggest concern is whose jersey you wear. There will be road trips just because and children who are thrilled to be back in the classroom.
There will be weddings. And parties. And dances. And proms. And graduations. And football games. And religious services. And cookouts. And reunions. And love.
There will be love.
I thought I wanted to write about pitted dates tonight. I thought I’d talk about how I’d taken for granted something as simple as a pitted date. But as I sat here typing, I realized I’ve taken a little more than that for granted.
And I wonder if you might be realizing that too?
In truth? I don’t really mind the pits anymore. Because I know what surrounds them is the sweetest life I could ever ask for.
And I know, at the end of the pit, there will still be love.