Banana Pancakes and Change

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 tendency. I’m not doing a great job, 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 for a sleepy, working-class neighborhood of Boston not far from where we’d grown up. He looked appealingly like a Founding Father and was remarkably steady in bed; he seemed comfortable with his choice to trade creative for cozy. I figured I could try doing the same. Sexy male mommies being my Achilles’ heel, I clamored for his maternal embrace.

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 could do for me, and I thought maybe I could climb into this hometown honey, let’s call him Al, whenever I came back to Massachusetts. I was still trying to figuring out my relationship with my family of origin, so I came home pretty often.

Al and I circled each other whenever I was in town and then late one night, he finally fell upon me in front of a roaring fire, and I succumbed to his soft plaid shirt and surprising hunger. For a while we worked as a couple. This was because we never discussed anything of import and I never spent more than a day or two with him; at that point in my life I couldn’t spend more time than that with anyone but cats. But eventually our relationship fell apart, anyway. Even when 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.

Today, though, I keep flashing on a breakfast he made for us one cold winter morning. When I stayed at his house, I usually got up hours before Al, so that by the time he stirred, I was already jacked up on caffeine and his comfortable couches and Oriental rugs. But this one time I keep remembering, we’d stayed up late the night before, making love only partly to keep warm in his drafty apartment. When I’d finally arose, I was greeted by my favorite smell: someone cooking for me.

I padded into the kitchen and he hugged me without making me talk, handing me a mug of strong coffee with half and half 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 then sat down, too. The eggs were salty and the pancakes too starchy 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 bestow 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