Banana Pancakes and Change

Today I slept until 11 am, which is the equivalent of 5 pm for an early bird like me. By the time I woke, I’d been downloaded with so much information that I knew it’d take the whole day to sort it out. After drinking some coffee, I realized the moon was void of course, which means my disconnect from time and space was right on cue. So I walked to one of the many overpriced but delightful restaurants that have cropped up in my neighborhood, ordered a real cocktail and huevos rancheros, and started to fill my notebook.

The truth is my notebook needs filling. I’ve emptied out so much recently—dreams that needed retiring, hopes that had been hung on the wrong coat hooks, habits that did more harm than good, safe spaces that weren’t safe anymore. And there are the many friends who’ve left the Earth lately. It’s a heartbreaking sort of housecleaning, letting go of all that, and I haven’t been the cheeriest cat lady on the block.

To be clear, I frequently am.

I know from experience that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. One of the advantages of not being young anymore is knowing that change is not only inevitable but okay. Good times are followed by bad times, which are followed by good times again–especially once you grow out of clinging to leaky rafts. Being a change-hating Crapicorn, I’m still trying to grow out of that. I’m not doing a great job of it, but I’m trying.

I keep flashing on a breakfast scene of about a decade ago. I was dating a guy from my hometown even though I’d been living in Brooklyn for more than 10 years. He was a big-nosed, big-shouldered, big-dicked musician who’d already fled New York, and was perched in a quiet neighborhood of Boston. He looked appealingly like a Founding Father and was remarkably steady in bed. I figured he’d traded in creative for cozy, and clamored for his maternal embrace. (Sexy male mommies are my Achilles’ heel.) Really, he was smart but stuck—yet another guy held hostage by his fury at his mother.

I was at loose ends, as I am now. I’d just broken up with a woman who was such a liar that I’d come to hate her mouth though I craved what it did to me, and I thought maybe I could climb into this hometown honey whenever I came back to Massachusetts. I was still trying to figuring out how to know my family of origin, so that was very often.

He and I circled each other whenever I was in town and then late one night, he finally moved toward me in front of a roaring fire, and I fell into his soft plaid shirt and surprising hunger. For a while it worked so long as we didn’t discuss anything. This was possible because I never spent more than a day or two with him; I can’t spend more than that with anyone but cats, anyway. Eventually, it fell apart. Even muted, my candor proved too much for his avoidant ways, and I couldn’t help but call bullshit on how he hid under the covers of life.

But I keep flashing on a breakfast he made for us one cold winter morning. Usually I got up hours before him, so that by the time he stirred, I was already jacked on caffeine and his comfortable couches and Oriental rugs. This one time we’d stayed up late the night before, making love only partly to keep warm in his drafty apartment, and I woke to my favorite smell: the scents of someone cooking for me.

I padded into the kitchen, he hugged me without making me talk, and handed me a cup of strong coffee though he himself was a tea drinker. He slid a plate of banana pancakes and scrambled eggs in front of me at an already set table, and sat down, too. The eggs were salty and the pancakes heavy but I fell upon them like they were lobster and caviar while he smiled, so pleased with both of us. For that moment at least, I was able to receive his kindness, and he was able to share it. That I had pancake stomach for hours afterward was a price I was more than willing to pay.

When we were ending it by phone a month later, I kept thinking about that lousy breakfast. I knew I gladly would have eaten ones like that for years if enough else was in place, and I knew that was a failing of mine, though few would ever see it that way.

It’s a failing I’m still addressing now.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy