When I'm Sad, Everyone Eats Banana Bread
I baked banana bread for weeks after I left you, so many golden batches with buttery, brown sugar crusts on top that I ran out of pans and ate the excess batter off of my Grandma Jo’s hand-me-down blue rubber spoon until I was sick, feeling like a little girl with a big bowl in her small hands and a sweet mouth in her throbbing head and no one to kiss, no one at all, except for our dog—no your dog, lest I forget.
I measured out the fruit and the flour, over and over and over again. I did the math, I oiled the Pyrex, I poured the goo, I set the timer, over and over and over again. I told myself that at least this recipe, these measurements, would always make sense, even when nothing else seemed to. I busied myself with cutting and wrapping the cooked dough for my lunch, for my friends, for my family, for my coworkers, for my upstairs neighbors, for strangers passing on the street--
I can’t help it. When I’m sad, everyone eats banana bread.
I baked two large loaves the day we found out that John drowned off the coast of Washington, do you remember? I cried into the batter and burned the bottom of first one. I was too late taking it out, staring out the kitchen window and thinking about my own mortality, how I hadn’t done all that much with my life yet, but I would at least make banana bread and pack it in your lunch and you would think of me at your desk, something sweet, something comforting, and how you might love me a little more when you came home.
I baked two more the week Grandma Jo passed, complications from her Parkinson’s disease too complex, too great. I put her rubber spoon to work, using dark molasses for sweetness and beating the batter with vigor, like she would have told me to. I thought about her homemade marinara, the smell of fresh, bright basil on our fingertips, how she wouldn’t let me chop it, I had to rip it: “For flavor,” she said. I thought about how she loved salt, but never too much pepper. I put dashes of salt in her banana loaves in memoriam. I almost ate an entire one my own, trying to fill myself with something besides grief.
I baked at least four batches when you stopped calling, your bitterness so strong I could almost taste it, but halfway through pouring the batter I pulled out a muffin tin. People were sick of my banana bread, my sorrow, this sad girl with a slack smile. I let these bananas rot longer than usual so they would be even sweeter—I thought if I disguised the bread as breakfast muffins, how they might love it again. I thought about you, how you always over-seasoned food, but I still thought you were an excellent cook because you always remembered to feed me. I thought about how I kissed your shoulders in the kitchen while you went wild with garlic powder, lemon pepper, red paprika. How you tasted like the earth, soil and sweat.
I wrapped a slice of the last banana bread I ever baked in our shared house in plastic for you, left it on top of your lunch in the fridge, and waited for you to text me how delicious it was. But when I got home it was still sitting on the white grates, left behind though you took your brown bag with chicken sandwich and whole pickle and cheddar chips.
“I’m sorry,” you said when I asked about it, the dog’s ribs expanding under my hand as he breathed small snores in between us on a striped couch that you adored and I despised, and still let you keep, “but you know I don’t really like sweets.”
About the Author: Lexi Senior is a roaming writer with an MFA in creative nonfiction from University of Central Florida. Her work has appeared in Cheap Pop and is forthcoming in Paper Darts. Find her writing impulsive poetry on Twitter.