My cousins and I would sit on the concrete, gravel dimpling our thighs as we cupped our hands around the fresh picked fuzzy peaches. The cement was warm from the summer sun and the smell of the sea, pungent and salty, filled the air in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Our lanky limbs contoured and crossed as we prepared to bite into the peach. The sweet juice of the peach ran down our cheeks and necks and chests with the sticky satisfaction of choosing the ripest one from the peach trees which lined my Aunt Hatixhe’s driveway. Fresh from the pool in her backyard that we all flocked to from our respective homes, our parents quick to take advantage of the above ground oasis that entertained us all for hours. Rounds of Marco Polo filled the neighbor’s ears with squeals and pleas of mercy echoed through summer air when the older boys pushed our heads under the water and laughed at their clever game which left our nostril cavities stinging with chlorine and a burning need for revenge in our chests. The peach trees were a treat that lasted all summer, always there for a snack and much more luscious than the thick tomatoes and long green peppers that grew in the garden. Like a three-dimensional heart, with a coral hairy skin warmed by the summer sun, peaches brought our tongues to life as we devoured them.
The peach originates from China and is a symbol of immortality and unity, which is believed to have been plucked from the tree of life. We were young, perhaps we already felt we were immortal or close to it. We were also together and in our naivety, we felt it would be that way forever. We thought that this moment of raw, untampered, and natural attraction to the luscious peach would remain the same forever; all of us circled around one another with juice dripping from our bodies as bugs buzzed around us jealous of our possession of this nectar which defined our summer days. We swatted at them annoyed as we argued with each other about such things that children argue about. Sometimes it was who could eat them fastest and other times it was who could keep their heads under the water longest without treacherous older cousins about.
The peaches always ended that same way. We sucked at that brown ridged pit until every single tiny peach flesh was in our belly. We threw the pits at the bottom of the peach trees in the driveway, left to decompose into the earth as the summer passed by. The women sat in lawn chairs in the driveway, smoking long Benson & Hedges cigarettes as they gossiped with neighbors and spat pistachio shells onto the floor after crushing them with their gold crowns. We were on our own in the back, although part of us believed they really did have eyes in the back of their heads. We fought, we swam, we played, and we fed ourselves with those driveway peaches.