Juice box in hand, I panted loudly as I was secured into my Bratz themed car-seat by my mother. Having come back from my then favorite pastime, gymnastics, I was unusually animated, even after two hours of cartwheels and handstands. Clunky headphones on, I looked out the window wondering where my mother would take me next as I listened to my favorite cartoon, Charlie, and Lola. Pulling into the familiar parking lot, we soon had come to a quick stop as I observed the rolling sea of Corollas and Priuses that surrounded me.
Finally unbuckled, my mother rested me on the nook of her hip and circled around the car to reveal the coveted, golden arches. Immediately, my miniature limbs thrashed about, attempting to be free from my mother's crushing grip. Finally, on the floor, I ran in between parked cars, and atop unknown platforms. Navigating through each and every crevice unknowingly until I reached my intended destination: the red and yellow gates.
Trailing behind me in horror, my mother snatched my hand as she slid the door open with ease, unearthing the empire of McDonald's. In awe, my pupils dilated as I rushed my mother towards the counter, to look up at the towering list of menu options. Huge burgers and golden fries littered the menu, but towards the right was something that would satisfy anyone's festering sweet tooth: apple pie. Impatiently waiting in the queue, I tugged on my mother's coat and obnoxiously begged her to ask the staff to hurry up. Barely being able to see that the order had finally gathered on the tray, my mother and I had begun to make our way to the table closest to the colossal labyrinth that was the playset.
Handing me the apple pie I lavishly tore away at the package, exposing the golden-crispy shell. Acquainting myself with the pie, I bit into it, chewing with my mouth wide open to relieve myself from the excruciating heat that came from the oozing lava-like apple juice and sugar reduction surrounding the chunks of ‘real apple’. The chewy apples stuck to my teeth and roof of my mouth as I devoured the pie, leaving behind an unmistakable aftertaste of cinnamon. Promptly, the sad reality had hit that I was nearing the end of my feast but fear not, I had thought to myself, another one will be coming soon.
Oddly enough, the preservative filled morsel became a source of comfort that had intricately intertwined itself into my childhood memories. Being the daughter of first-generation Egyptian-American immigrants with an amusing hunger for success and adventure had meant that I never stayed in one place for too long. As a child, having your surroundings change so often was confusing and frustrating to me. However, one thing that never changed was the food my mother would get for me from McDonald's after gymnastics practice or school.
Although the fact that the food there is imperishable is alarming, it provided then six-year-old me with a sense of comfort and consistency that I had craved so genuinely. To this day, the simplicity of the apple pie has manifested into something that I visit endearingly whenever I need an emotional hug.