I made myself a peanut butter-banana-sandwich this week. It was all I had in the house for lunch. I really should plan more carefully when I go shopping. I always remember the basics of my breakfast — oatmeal, blueberries, bananas, yoghurt bran buds — but the rest of my eating repertoire suffers from lack of a good list.
The cats were not impressed with my choice. They sniffed around a bit but decided that peanut-butter-banana just did not come up to their high dining standards of tuna-water or raw meat.
But what was really strange about this peanut-butter-banana sandwich episode — other than the ingredients — was that I have never ever in my entire life made a peanut-butter-banana sandwich for myself. Why now? It wasn’t just that there was nothing else in the house. I could have had my usual peanut-butter-honey but no, this day, I added the banana.
It all started when I was just innocently walking down Major Street, feeling hungry, and wondering what I could fix for lunch. Then, this absolutely pressing urge came over me that said, “You must have a peanut-butter-banana sandwich. Today. No questions asked!” But why now???
The only other time in my entire life that I have had a peanut-butter-banana sandwich was in Grade 8, Age 12. I was invited for an after-school visit to Eileen F’s house. (She’s the red arrow in the second to last row and I’m the other one.) I was ga-ga. Eileen, to me, was the most exotic girl in my eighth-grade class. She was the first person who I had met face-to-face who had been born in EUROPE.
I mean I had European roots — my dad’s parents had been born in Deutchland but they were dead before I was born so I didn’t get a chance to meet them face-to-face. And my mom’s Irish-born Grandma Kate existed only in the stories that mom told me about her.
So Eilen and her mom were my first European flesh-and-blood friends. Their accents alone were so delicious. They shamed my flat, Ohioan, nasal drawl — where wash became “warsh” and dishes became “deeshes”. When I was around them, I wanted to just keep quiet and listen.
I wonder now if meeting Eileen, and later her mother, and eating those peanut-butter-banana sandwiches, was when the first drop of wanderlust dripped into my heart that would eventually take me away from Ohio and my family? I didn’t think that then. I was just a kid who had never even been out of the Great State of Ohio and had never really even thought about traveling all that much. But those lovely accents may have held the first silent strings of the siren’s song that would later draw me away from my Midwest roots.
I heard them again, a few years later, when I was in high school and my sister Nancy took a trip to Europe. I was always impressed with Nancy, but this put her on a pedestal that I never took her down from again. When she got home, I remember holding her shoes close to my heart and thinking, “These shoes have walked the streets of Paris, Rome, London.” I never wanted her to wear them in Columbus ever again.
I could be superstitious about this most recent sandwich craving. Maybe, just maybe, this latest bite into a peanut-butter-banana sandwich is connected to Annie’s Odyssey’s trip through the world of publishers and agents. Who knows, that gooey sandwich may just help those stories along the journey to find a publisher. Or — a girl can dream — maybe it was a sign that another European adventure is waiting for me just around the bend.