Monday, April 4, 2011

Bananas (or Adulthood, Fail)

It was the bananas that sent me over the edge.

I'd spent the day with a good friend -- one I dearly love and have been pals with forever -- and feeling just the teensiest bit, well, envious of her life. Like all lives, it has moments of complete "AAAGHHHH STREESSSSS" -- show me one that doesn't -- but overall? This woman has it together. Let's look at the stats.

*Married for 12 years. (I've been divorced for 4 -- hey, a milestone is a milestone, people! Don't judge me while I'm judging myself!)

* Two fabulous children. (I have a deranged cat)

* Lovely, meticulously kept home. (I've lived in four different places in the last five years.)

*She's a stay at home mom with an emerging craft business. (I've changed careers three times and, um, write a blog where I talk about instances of falling down in public.)

I don't know what I would have to be envious of, right? We're EXACTLY alike. Practically twins.

I'm not usually a jealous sort, but now and then it creeps up on me that perhaps I haven't launched into the most successful attempt at adulthood ever. But what of it, I said to myself as I searched the shelves with my friend, looking for a child's bookshelf. I'm happy with where I'm at, even though it isn't quite where I expected to be. It's all good.

And it was.

Until I got home and noticed the bananas.

I don't usually buy bananas because I like them in very small doses (say, half a banana at a time). But in January, in yet another ill-fated attempt at Responsible Adulthood, I went to the doctor. The doctor said my potassium was low and that I should eat more bananas and potatoes. I went with the potatoes because -- well, potatoes are delicious and, frankly, keep for a lot longer than bananas.

Of late, however, there are few to no potatoes in my life for weight loss reasons. So, bananas. The store had a large selection of lovely, firm, yellow bananas. I was judicious in my selection of a bunch, knowing that five bananas was simply too many for one single me. One especially good looking bunch had three bananas on it. I looked at it. I'm pretty sure it winked at me and said, "Hey, pretty lady. Come here often? Wanna take us home?" (Okay, bananas don't have the best pick up lines. But whatever.)

Three bananas it was.

I put them on my kitchen counter where I would have to look at them every day so that, in my Responsible Adult fashion, I would eat them.

I ate one of them.

The other two -- formerly triplets, now just twins -- sat on the counter and waited.

I'll eat them later, I thought every time I looked at them.

Until yesterday, when I got home. There they were, hanging out on the counter. They were no longer the wholesome duo that caught my eye in the produce bin -- they were now two badasses that had clearly been around the block a few times and were up to no good. They were leering at me.

"Hey lady, did you forget about us?"

"DAMMIT!" I said out loud. "I SUCK at being a grown-up!"

I like to think that I am not overly dramatic.

I realize that I am wrong.

Because this is what went through my head next: What is wrong with me? How can I be such a fail at adulthood? Responsible people buy food and then EAT it! They don't leave it on the counter to ROT! And hello, don't kid yourself, those bananas are totally rotting on your counter because you didn't eat them. I. Am. Such. An. Idiot. This is why I'm single, I think. No, it totally is. Because I'm such a spaz that one minute I'm all "ooooh, bananas" and the next I'm all distracted by some other breakfast-y delicousness and all "whatever, bananas" and now look at this. Total waste. I bet my friend isn't so irresponsible that she lets bananas rot on her counter -- "

And then I started to laugh. Out loud. At myself.

Because I AM an idiot, but it isn't because I have two brown bananas on my kitchen counter.

I'm an idiot because, even though I know how silly it is, I still trying to live my life by the rules of "supposed to" and "should have" and then being surprised when I come up short. Of COURSE I come up short. We all come up short -- because no matter how well we're doing, we could be doing better, couldn't we? If we live by the rules of "supposed to" there's always another expectation to meet -- a better job, more money, bigger house, happier relationship, what have you.

But "supposed to" doesn't take circumstance into consideration. Your job -- and what you want out of your job -- can change. Money, while nice to have, won't feed your soul. If I know that I'm not cut out to be a homeowner (and oh, I am not) that doesn't lessen the joy I find in my (perfect for me, rented) space. Relationships come and they go until you find the partner who is meant to stay -- the failed ones are stepping stones on the way to the right one.

And two partially rotten bananas on the counter are JUST bananas that I didn't eat and not signposts of failure.

Or at least they were.

At the end of my tizzy, when I was done laughing at myself and getting a grip, I considered them in their sweet, soft, ripe banana-y goodness... and made banana bread.

That, my friends, is winning.


  1. Hey you! While I realize you were talking about much more than brown bananas here, I want you to know that even mature (lol) women like me who have had flourishing careers, kids, 36 years of marriage so far, a great house by the beach, yadda yadda, aren't necessarily on top of the kitchen situation.

    I only buy green, SMALL bananas, 3 or 4 at a time. Unlike you, I do like them, and I try to eat a whole one every morning. A small whole one. Tip: Try a banana peeled, sliced lengthwise, with peanut butter spread on each half! Wholesome peanut butter (Teddie brand is great), not the sugary kind with shortening in it.

    But at any rate, I have made so many loaves of yummy banana bread from black, yes black, bananas, I've lost count. And you can freeze an extra loaf if you make too much. Or give it away. Win win!

    You are doing FINE. Stop measuring yourself against others. I have done that all my life, and when I was much younger it helped me be extremely ambitious and competitive in my career, and filled with energy for my job. I have come to accept (repeat that word: Accept) that I am not an ambitious person anymore. So sue me. Beginning in my mid 40s, when I accepted perhaps one promotion too many for my comfort zone, I stopped wanting to be a manager, to have MORE responsibility. I enjoyed writing, editing, even meetings. I got overly stressed about managing a team of people. I am absolutely sure my stated aversion to same was a bit of a career-derailer for me. It's probably why I'm self-employed now.

    But I am what and who I am. I'm really good at some things! Being a mom and writing and editing, foremost.

    I seem always to have at least one part of my house that's in chaos. It's like whack-a-mole: Clean up my office space, and there goes the dining room. Clean the living room, and the kitchen is a pigpen. But you know what: I eventually get to it all. Just not all at once.

    You are a fabulous writer and clearly a lovely person. I applaud and envy people who can live alone with a level of comfort that right now, I only aspire to. (Read my last blog entry! What a loser!)

    Carry on, kiddo. You're doing fine, and I'd like a slice of that banana bread please. :-)

  2. I was hoping this story ended in banana bread. Because then everybody wins! In fact, that old "when life gives you lemons" adage should be "when life gives you old bananas, make bread."

  3. I had not realized that there is a nearly universal love for banana bread among my followers. Banana bread for everyone!