Mozzarella Cheese Balls

They roll in the clear plastic tub, not particularly appealing at first glance. The cheap plastic turns me off, as does the somewhat murky water they soak in, and then there’s the name, “cheese balls.” The word “balls” to describe food has about as much appeal as “curd” or “log.” And yet, once I get past the unfortunate label, drain the icky water, pop one of the soft-yet-slightly-resistent pieces of cheese into my mouth, all hesistation vanishes. How to describe the taste? Not sweet, not sour, not savory, just so creamy-fresh, like a picnic on the sunniest day with the bluest sky under a picture-perfect oak tree, cows lowing in the distance. An innocence. Mozzarella in other forms seems bland, lacking the tanginess of cheddar or the excitement of something veiny and blue. But the mozzarella balls, they would be the snack of the gods – especially with some fresh basil and tomatoes, which is how I brought them to the station.

But this has nothing to do with radio. This has everything to do with K, who moved away. I used to buy her mozzarella balls because she loved them so much. Once at the Co-op, I saw her neighbors and said, “Wait!” then dashed over to the deli, grabbed a tub and sent it home with them to deliver to her.

I wish I’d brought her a feast of cheese and fruit and bread and wine before she left, but I’m so bad at goodbyes, was so sad and angry that she had to move away. I said almost nothing rather than risk saying the wrong thing. And she had other friends helping her, so I kept my tears to myself and let her leave without even a hug. Buying those cheese balls made me think of her, which made me happy, right before breaking my heart.

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