Apples of Friendship

November 7, 2007
By Julia Xiong, Slingerlands, NY

Apples have always been a fruit I loved, and I loved apple picking just as much. But one day when I went apple picking, it changed me in a special way and gave apples a new meaning to me.
That day was just about five years ago, when I was in around second grade. The leaves were already starting to change to brilliant reds and oranges and fall to the ground, the weather was getting colder, and big gray clouds blocked out the sun almost every day.
That day, the sky was cloudy- an illusion that causes a person to feel dreary or downcast. But that cloudy sky felt bright, because I knew a sun was shining behind those clouds. It was a bright day for me. The crisp air made me feel awake and full of energy. That day, I was bursting with energy, so much that I didn’t, and couldn’t, walk. I ran. But, just that once, I contained my energy and walked to the orchard, or at least tried to.
As my sister Michelle and I power-walked toward the Fuji apple fields, our parents hurried behind us. We were anxious to see our friends, anxious to pick the ripe apples, just plain anxious. We had spotted a few of our friends already. Jen and her family were walking to the huge apple orchard. To our left, we saw Joyce and Eric’s car come toward us.
When all of our friends had finally arrived, we all rushed at once on our short legs into the big apple field and immediately started grabbing apples off the nearest trees- the biggest, the reddest, and the tastiest. Soon our chattering parents had also started to pick, but they mostly followed behind us, helping us pick the perfect apples that were too high for us to reach.
We all soon had an apple in one hand that we had bitten into, slowly consuming it while we picked more. We flitted from one tree to another, sometimes handing an apple to each other when one of us finished chomping on ours. The occasional stumble over a stray apple on the ground or a dense clump of grass led to a few seconds of shock and quiet, then an outburst of laughter. We chatted as we worked. Jen, goofy and laughing, Laura, joking around, Joyce, talking the most, Michelle, running around, Eric, tagging along, and me, smiling a big smile - we all couldn’t stop smiling, we felt connected, like one big family.
When we went home that day after stuffing our bags with apples, we knew something had changed between us friends, something good. But soon after our happy apple picking trip, we started to change and drift apart in ways. Joyce started becoming very busy, so I almost never saw her. Eric, being himself, sometimes became unbearably annoying, and spent more and more time with his other friends. Laura and Jen started drifting away too. We weren’t in the same class, and only Jen was in the same school as me. I also got very busy, and so did Michelle. We sometimes fought with those friends, arguing or disagreeing about many things.
But the memory of that time of apple picking held us together through the hardest of those times. It helped me through times when I felt like I couldn’t stop frowning when I thought of my friends or sometimes when I felt I had no friends at all. All I had to do was think about it and I would feel reassured.
Apples helped me get through arguments too. Sometimes, I would eat an apple and taste the sweetness of it. It made me feel the sweetness of our friendship, the sweet presence of knowing friends will be there, and how I want that friendship to last. And that I would forgive them and they would forgive me. The blend of apples and friends in that time of apple picking made me think of apples in a whole different way. Each type of apple was like a friend, all different yet similar. Some apples were sweet, some sour, some crispy. The wide range of qualities of different types of apples was as big as the range of different characteristics of friends. Apples made me smile and feel better, especially when I thought of my friends as I ate one. I would eat one when I was in a mood or just could not understand. Soon, that period of confusion was over and we became whole again.
The “Confusion” had fogged up our understanding of what really happened to our friendship that day. After that period of confusion, I started to realize exactly what had happened. I realized that the day when we were apple picking had created something special between us. That time we went apple picking bound us together. It sealed our friendships, making it whole and strong. We felt more comfortable with each other than ever before. That day proved to me that my friends were extended family, because after that day, I turned to my friends when my real family wouldn’t understand. They knew just how to make me feel better, even if it was just a teensy weensy bit. After that day, my friends treated me like family, too. They had also changed in ways that made them feel like my sisters. Joyce became easy to talk to- I spilled out all my problems whenever I spent time with her. Jen would be understanding, and open to me too. Laura knew how to make every situation funny, just to make things seem better. And Michelle, my real sister, was patient and listened to every problem I had.
We wouldn’t let our growing differences stand in the way. We used the “Confusion” as an example of what we would all try to avoid happening. That event of apply picking followed with a bonding friendship. I felt our friendship get stronger as time went by, each minute, each day, and each year we were friends. As times past, some of us slowly forgot that time of apple picking. Yet the feeling of trust, confidence and caring for each other as friends stayed there. I knew that as we grew older we would stay friends, maybe even for the rest of our lives.
That day proved to me that something as everyday as apple picking could become something extraordinary. I never imagined that that time of apple picking would change me or affect me in any way. But I’m glad it did, because that change formed something that was strong and would go on for eternity. An everlasting friendship, started with apple picking.

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