July 04, 2010

Of Bananas Past and Present

Puppy and I made chocolate covered frozen bananas for the first time yesterday during Firefly's nap. He took the initiative to cover his with sprinkles of many colors. When I gave Firefly hers after dinner was finished, she eyed it warily for quite some time, then turned it horizontally and nibbled at it like an ear of corn.

I went to college a thousand miles from where I grew up. Same time zone, but far enough to experience a different part of the country. After my first year I stayed at school for most of the summer with some of my friends and worked in an office on campus instead of going home. I was glad I stayed, but also missed the familiar summers of home, a little homesick for the quiet shade on my parents' patio, my mom's cooking, and, I suppose, for childhood in general.

The campus was very different in those hot, hot months. Empty and subdued. There were no classes; the students on campus were either working or doing research. Nothing was ever crowded. Walking into the uncrowded dining hall one day I spotted a small suggestions box on the wall I had never noticed before. It looked little used and a tad incongruous; the kitchen rarely strayed from a fairly set rotation of dishes in its quest to feed a couple thousand folks three times a day. But figuring I had nothing to lose, I fished out a pen and scribbled a request. If it is possible, could we please have frozen chocolate covered bananas? I had loved them since I was very small and hardly ever got to eat them; they reminded me of Disneyland and the state fair, sundresses and lazy days. They were the quintessential summer treat to me.

The next day--the very next day--I walked into the dining hall and there they were. Frozen chocolate covered bananas. In my memory, they are laying out on the line on a tray in tidy rows, but that can't be right. They must have been in the creaky chest freezer that we passed on our way out the door, tucked in next to the paletas and push-up pops. Clearly made there in the kitchen and slipped into wax paper envelopes, not purchased from a supplier. I remember turning to my friends with a gasp, saying, "These are for me! They made these for me!"

I was surprised at the time by how moved I was by those bananas, what an emotional impact they made on me. Some real person had read my scrap of paper and taken the time to make them. I am sure they didn't know that it would make me feel rooted in a way I hadn't felt in months. That I would remember these bananas, those silly little bananas, sixteen summers later when so much else from that time has been forgotten.

As Puppy and I made a chocolate mess yesterday afternoon I was thinking (clumsy Carrie Bradshaw segue alert!) back to that moment in the dining hall and how much it meant to feel noticed and heard. The fact that it was for something so seemingly inconsequential was what made it meaningful, I think. We expect people to respond what we say something important or do something significant. But the small things, the mundane things seem less worthy of sharing or noticing.  People sometimes mock personal blogs and general social media for feeding on life's minutiae. But I think they're wrong. I write about my inappropriate feelings for my books or my love of frozen bananas and perhaps some of you respond, "Me, too!" and I smile. And maybe several weeks later a friend tweets to say, "Saw frozen chocolate covered bananas today and thought of @hedra" and I smile again. Does any of it need to be said? Not really. But those tiny sensations of being heard, the wee threads it creates between us each time are real. And I think it makes the serious things we say to each other in between the frippery all the more meaningful.

17 comments:

cindy psbm said...

This blog reminds of a place called 'Edible arrangments'

link:www.ediblearrangements.com/

They make lots of frozen chocolate covered fruit.

very...mmmmm!!!

I really want to get some chocolate cover bananas...now!

Lavender Luz said...

Ever since you launched the Open Adoption Roundtable with a prompt about small moments, I've become a big fan of them, as well.

Now I, too, will think of you whenever I see or hear of frozen chocolate-covered banans :-).

Jess said...

seriously, it's amazing and awesome that they made those bananas! Kind of makes you think better of humanity in general, doesn't it?

Shannan said...

I love this post and think it is very thoughtful in a way that our busy/bigger-is-always-better world doesn't always understand. Thanks for taking time to share it here. I agree with Lavender that I will always think of you now when I see them.

Shannan said...

P.S. Carrie Bradshaw would definitely relate to your sentimental post and experiences....Then enter crude Samantha joke about chocolate covered bananas:)!!!!

Sonya said...

I seriously just ate a chocolate covered banana 10 minutes ago. I bought them from the ice cream section at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and forgot they were in the freezer...too weird!! Cool story, it is nice to be heard!

Heather said...

@Sonya - You can buy them at the store?!? Why have I never known this!?!

cynthia said...

Wow, I actually got teary reading this.. thinking ahead to my boys being away at school and someone taking the time to make them feel at home like that, I guess. Quite a powerful story about being away from family for the first time- not minutiae at all. Not that there's anything wrong with minutiae... :)

Anonymous said...

A good story.

Did you think of how much it meant to the kitchen folks to feel noticed and heard & thank them?

Heather said...

@Jess & Anonymous - I thanked the people working the line that day, but they just sort of shrugged and thought I was weird. I've always wished I had tried to find out who actually read my note and thanked them.

Derek and Nikki Davis said...

I think sometimes that we get so caught up in the "big" things that we forget that the special moments are the everyday things. I have things that I do at home that remind me of the past and I cherish every moment. Thank you for sharing this little piece of life. I am also starting a blog at http://waitingformychild.blogspot.com.

susiebook said...

The ones you can buy at TJs, at least, really stink--I'd stick with making your own. I actually made them for Ruth and Nora at this last visit; they had never had them before. My husband had never had them before I fed him one. Such an amazing treat, and so underexposed!

Sonya said...

Yes Heather, I bought them at the store where I work, Food Lion in NC. They're made by "Diana's Bananas", they're called "banana babies". Check them out at www.dianasbananas.com to see if they're sold in your neck of the woods!!

therapyisexpensive said...

You've got a way of inducing all sorts of cravings any time I read your blog or your tweets.Both my parents are from southern CA so I grew up with Disneyland and frozen bananas. I've tried the ones at Fred Meyer and Safeway, they're okay but homemade is always better.

Kristin said...

Love this post! It's sweet and evocative, and conveys much of how I feel about the "bloggy community" I've grown attached to. Finding others who care about my "minutia" makes me feel more connected to the human experience.

Now, at the risk of revealing my culinary ineptitude, would you share the recipe please, Tiger?

jrs said...

Glad you got some chocolate covered bananas! What a great story.

Also, I enjoyed reading the Open Adoption Roundtable Discussion. As a newbie to this, I realize there is a lot for me to learn and think about.

Thanks for stopping by my blog

familyofthree said...

Saw chocolate covered bananas at the fair last night, and decided to make them myself today. Just popped them in the freezer to have as a surprise dessert tonight, and thought of this post... prayed for your family as I made the bananas, and then as I proceeded to lick the bowl clean... :)

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