Whose Orange Juice?

The musings of a girl who thinks too much, too hard about breakfast food

It’s 2 a.m., and I’m drinking orange juice.
Two a.m. is too late for orange juice.
“There is a time and a place for everything,” my grandmother once said, pushing my legs together while I laughed loudly at an innocuous joke.
I don’t think her message applies to many situations, but perhaps it has great meaning in the context of orange juice.
There is a time and a place for orange juice.
It belongs in sturdy but short glassware on the breakfast tables of the kind of people who eat breakfast at 8 a.m.
They eat breakfast after they’re dressed.
They eat breakfasts that have a protein and a carb and a fruit.
They eat breakfast on a plate.
A white, glass plate, or a porcelain plate.
Perhaps their breakfast tables look like my mother’s.
But my mother’s is messy, covered with dishes and pans of the breakfasts she made us.
Every single day that I ate breakfast at my mother’s table, each of us ate different breakfasts.
My father ate whatever his colleagues’ wife’s doctor had said was best for her journey towards weight loss and muscle gain. Sometimes it was all protein, and sometimes there was no protein at all. One time, he drank just soups. Another time, he ate only red rice.
Each morning, my mother would make him whatever Dr. Oz-like recipe with which he had decided he wanted to begin his journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
My sister hates oatmeal. She doesn’t care much for food at all and is generally apathetic toward breakfast foods. But oatmeal, she hates. One of my favourite memories is watching her cry big, rolling tears into a bowl of oatmeal when she was eight years old. Such desolation I did not imagine I would ever see in the eyes of an eight-year-old. The same eight-year-old whom I had convinced was rescued from a trash can behind our previous home.
In terms of picky eaters, I take the cake. Quite literally, I would always rather have cake than whatever options my mum was presenting me with. This was true until I ate cake for breakfast for nearly a month my freshman fall. I came away from that month with 10 pounds on my ass and some distaste for cake.
But my mum is a brave one, sipping her milky, black, ginger tea. Hunched over the kitchen ledge, she’d pass plates of breakfast to each of us as we trudged through the morning.
By the end of her morning, my mum would sit at the table, drinking her second mug of tea. More milky, more gingery, black tea. Other than the weekend mornings when my father becomes domestic, my mother doesn’t eat breakfast.
No breakfast table from my childhood looked like the kind that would have sturdy yet delicate glasses of pulp-free organically harvested orange juice.
Orange juice has a time and place.
I haven’t found that time or that place yet.
I find occasional windows into these places and wrinkles in these times.
I see them in TV shows I spend all night binge-watching.
I see families seated around breakfast tables eating breakfasts that my mother deemed too unhealthy because we’re all four months of breakfast cake away from becoming diabetic.
I see families that have good days. All of them have good days. All the days are good days for these families.
None of them throw tantrums because they wanted to spend the weekend with a friend, but their mums think they should be doing homework.
None of them cry from cramps because of their periods or terrible digestion because of their periods.
They rarely even mention their periods.
None of them talk about the weird dream they had where everybody died and they inherited all the family money and that made them sad, but rich and sad—a different class of sad entirely.
The 18-year-olds in these families know better than to bring up the death of the entire family and their own not-so-immense sadness before 9 a.m.
These families talk about the news like they all agree on how they feel about the news.
They talk in turn and smile and make eye contact while others are talking.
It is on these breakfast tables, where no one spills grains of rice and slices of pineapple, that orange juice in sturdy but delicate glassware belongs.