A Bite of Lemon

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I’m going to try and describe a facet of the way I think. It’s in my head. As you read, you may think; he’s making it up. Yes, I am making it up. It’s a creation of my mind. There’s no way for me to prove to you—or to me—that what I am saying is true. If you’d like, you can read this like a fictional piece. Because it is. It’s all in my head.


One of my earliest memories is of Gerber Sweet Potato. Every time my mom put a spoonful in my mouth, I tasted the sun that filtered in the window and bounced off the floor. Or maybe the scene flowing in the window tasted like sweet potato. Either way, my mom still remarks to this day that she’s never seen me enjoy anything quite like Gerber Sweet Potato.


I remember summer sun and wood chips; sweat flowing down my back, but goosebumps on my arms. The sight of bottle rocket popsicles chilled me, and the sound of their crunch froze me to the bone. To this day, I can’t hold one without being flash frozen—caught in some arctic wind flowing down from Canada and passing only over me.


Back then, they said I just had a wild imagination. I was one of those kids that wanted superpowers but couldn’t have them, so I stopped telling people. At some point, I started assuming everyone felt that way. I bit lemons, and my friend’s faces puckered up, obviously vicariously experiencing the sensual assault on my taste buds. But I could never explain to them the irony of red Gatorade tasting blue and blue Powerade tasting red. Nobody really understood then, and—for the most part—they still don’t. Most of the people I tell about it now just find a creative way to torment me with it. In the same way you would use a spray bottle on a puppy, my girlfriend will grab a cup full of ice and start chewing. That’s always fun.


The biggest issue I have in explaining how I feel is this: five senses are not enough. There’s some indescribable aspect to it, but I’m forced to use words like taste and felt, left and right, red and blue; the sensation exists in some abstract place in between those words. It’s the feeling you get the second before the phone rings. When you pick up your phone because you felt the text coming. Feeling without knowing. It’s an impression, much like how ice feels cold and fire feels hot. But everything has this sense. Every color, every object. Some strong, some weak.


But there are not enough words to describe them, other than blanket statement terms like “synesthesia” or “aesthesis.” It’s like trying to comprehend the colors outside of our visual spectrum. How can I expect you to see a color you’ve never seen? How can you expect me to explain that color to you? You can’t, because I’m making it up. It’s all in my head. Some sort of error in my code. Bugs in the software. I live in a different world that mostly overlaps yours, but not completely.


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