I read a quote today. "Joy is the ultimate act of defiance", it said. Google told me that Bono said it, and while I'm not one to go around quoting people out of context, especially Bono unless it's an "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" joke—because there is no amateur hour amateur enough for me—I feel this one is pretty accurate.
Every Sunday for the past two years I have gone to the same farmer's market before I show up for a commitment that I have just a couple blocks up the street. I get coffee from the same stand—if you're in DC it's called Zeke's Coffee and you should try it—and then I cruise through the fruit and vegetable tents. Most weeks when I'm not stupid broke I spend too much money on things like Honeycrisp apples that are at their peak for maybe a month or so and cost one million relative dollars in apple money. I justify the cost because they are a staple food with peanut butter for lunch (I mean, I don't even buy bread most of the time, my one self says to my other self while we duke it out over how many are going into the bag) and mostly because if I can't buy these precise apples after I purchase that exact cup of coffee so my Sunday achieves its perfect rhythm then what else can I count on right now? I maybe get an empanada, too, and I'm out of there. The whole trip takes 12 minutes, max. I do this in weeks when the news is terrible and sad, which lately is pretty much every week. I do it when I'm running late, which I should not do, really, but I do it anyway. I have done it every week over this past year punctuated by a loss that still frequently punches me in the gut out of nowhere when I'm driving my car or watching tv, but is nonetheless somehow integrating into the cells of my body so I can carry it a little better along with all of the other stuff I have to do, because I'm still here. I have learned that no matter how I feel there are some things I can count on every day. On Sunday it's the same woman, pretty much always, selling me the coffee. She teaches me faith, swiping my card what looks like way too many times through the reader on her phone to get it to scan, so I'm sure every week that I'll pay for 27 cups of coffee, but somehow it's always only one. There are the same crates of apples and pears and plates full of samples, hand-drawn signs with dollar signs and crowds of people and dogs to weave through, most of them acting out their own personal Sunday ritual, because I vaguely recognize faces now, indistinctly.
I think it's not overstating to say that there is some defiant joy especially right now, this November, in these apples, the color and the stems and the few stubborn leaves still hanging on, the place where I find them, even the bruises.