|This woman is my rock. And so is her juice and Milo.|
Then the mangos went out of season, and the face of my friendly juice seller fell flat as she told me that mangos were not going to be back for a long, long time. As the mango season came to a close, so did my fear of getting lost in angkot, or lost in conversation, or lost in the thoughts that had constructed mazes in the inner fixtures of the person I was transforming into. I was growing. I was changing. I was loving. And just as quickly as I had fallen in love with mangos, I had forgotten about them and the obstacles that had been thrown in my face when they had been in season. Life became a bit more normal. I journeyed from city to city of Java with my host family. I spoke in front of large crowds. I met a collection of inspiring, uplifting people. I was busy, trying to finish an online class, make friends, learn how to cook, practice my Bahasa, volunteer. Each day quietly slipped by and suddenly the second half of my exchange was nearing its finale.
So yesterday, when I got word that the mangos had returned, of course, excitement ensued. My hands couldn't refrain from meandering over the rough, green peels, bringing me back to those first moments that just months before had quickly become foggy memories. My beloved fruit had grown, just as I had. But this time when sour mango juice hung on my lips, something had changed. The familiar comfort that had accompanied my mangos in the early months was replaced with something else entirely. Heartache. Grief. Straight up sadness. The juice woman's promise of "a long, long time" had passed in strikingly fast moments. The mangos are back. I've come full circle. And while the return of the mangos symbolizes the near end of this journey I've come to love so much, they also symbolize the start of a new one. The mangos are back. And boy, they are the sweetest they've ever been.