The sun had set, leaving the skies in a dull faded shade of purple. The air was pleasant and the breeze cool. I welcomed it as it brushed past my face. It reminded me that autumn was close approaching.My stroll around my neighborhood was uneventful, yet meaningful all the same. And to think it started with apple pie.
I had developed a craving for apple pie. Be it Entenmann’s or a frozen perversion of the tart and flaky dessert that I grew a fondness for, I would be satiated so long as it was not one of those frosted handheld so-called fruit pies. The delis around the train station didn’t have them. Otherwise I would have bought one yesterday. No, I was unable to my return to my domicile without pie in hand.
As the weather cools, my intake of tea increases. As the evenings arrive earlier, I get into my creative moods more often. I could write for an entire day without taking any sustenance and not feel a single pang of hunger. But this was not so much about my needs as it was about my wants.A man wants what he wants, but he must make his own way. I decided that I would purchase an apple pie. It would be a sweet accompaniment for my daily tea habit. There was a slice of pound cake left from the loaf I had baked a week or so ago, but the pound cake was more suited for a tall glass of milk. The only place I knew that carried Entenmann’s apple pies would be the medium sized supermarket a short walk from my home. I knew that there were many Hispanic delis and bodegas on the way and decided that I would check them on the way back if the supermarket did not have it. I hoped that it wouldn’t come to that.Strolling my way to the supermarket, I took a deep breath of fresh air. It was different from the summer air, whose heat and mugginess felt ugly and uncomfortable. This budding autumn air promised a refreshing reprieve from hotter days. It entered my body and I felt rejuvenated. The dimming evening sky above my head blanketed me, the falling darkness lending a comforting familiarity. I turned the corner and saw a trio of young Hispanic children were running around and playing with delight. I looked on with a smile. They looked so happy, their little feet stomping around one after the other, calling out to each other. I passed them and turned onto a different street.
There was a young Hispanic couple down that street. They had a cute little baby together. The father was busy returning a call on his cellphone, bent over the carriage adjusting his infant son’s bib while the mother cleaned the baby’s face. I looked into the carriage and the baby boy looked back at me, following me with his dark shiny eyes. His cheeks were round and fat, the type that gets thoroughly abused by grandmothers and aunts. He was quite a perfect little cherub of adorable measure. As I walked past, the father courteously and conscientiously moved out of my way.
I arrived at the supermarket and made my way to the section that carries Entenmann’s cakes. The shelf was filled with a wide variety of Entemann’s products and other sugary monstrosities like Swiss Rolls and oatmeal pies. Had I been many years younger, I might’ve been tempted by the junk, but my craving was for a higher form of sweetness. I scanned past the chocolate cakes and theFrenchcheese cakes, my eyes moving past the iconic white boxes and curly blue letters. Various fruit pastries and boxes of baked goods sat there, staring back at me. I was dumbfounded. Amongst all the many varied desserts, my most favored apple pie, a popular American classic, was not to be found. Disbelief filled my mind. It was impossible for them not to stock such a fine pastry. It just didn’t make any sense. I turned exasperated: the one place that I felt would have my Entenmann’s apple pie turned out to be a fruitless. I was angry at the store manager for not having the foresight to keep a healthy stock of apple pies. I was angry that I had come out very specifically for that pie, but that I had no choice but to leave the supermarket without it. But this anger left as quickly as it came, and I sighed long and deep. I would search for an alternative: perhaps they would have a frozen ones. I would’ve much preferred a fresh Entenmann’s (as fresh as they could be coming from wherever such pies are baked), but I would settle for a frozen one.
And find such a pie I did. I wasn’t pleased with the appearance of the crust even from the photo: it was not fluffy and flaky the way I liked it. In place of my preferred crust was a much flatter and rather unappetizing looking crust. Even so, some apple pie is better than none. I had narrowly escaped apple pie starvation.
With my frozen pie in tow, I left the supermarket. On the way back, I stopped by various bodegas. Alas, none of them carried the pie I truly desired. Hoping to find an apple pie to my liking, I stopped at a Colombian bakery. The lady behind the counter was conversing with two gentlemen in Spanish as I walked in, but her attention turned to me and greeted me with an unexpected cheeriness. She had such a genuine smile that struck warmth into my heart, and I could not help but be compelled to return her gracious welcome with my own smile and a slight wave of the hand. I took a look at a good number of the baked goods sitting in the glass case. There were no pies, but a familiar triangular pastry caught my eye: it was a turnover. I suspected that there would be apple in it, so I pointed at the tray on the left and asked her what lay inside that pastry. She informed me that it was pineapple. I had only one more chance at fulfilling my craving for an apple-filled pastry. I pointed at the turnovers on the right and asked her about them.
Lo and behold, I had found a close facsimile to the treasure I was originally hunting for: an apple turnover. Happy with my finding, I asked her for two of them. The friendly lady obliged, wrapping them in napkins and placing them into those little brown paper bags that I like so much. I paid for them and dropped the change in the tip jar.
I stepped out of that Colombian bakery onto slightly darker streets with street lamps adding a distinct orange tinge to the purplish skies. The air was just a touch nippier, people were still walking around. I realized that in the twenty something years I had lived here, I had never been to that bakery. On the way home, I emptied my mind, focusing on nothing. The neighborhood felt less like disparate streets and avenues, and all the stores and houses moved past me until I was at my front door.