The grocery store is getting apocalyptic again. There is a line of people standing outside, a masked employee in a Hawaiian shirt at the sliding door, beckoning people in slowly, marching us all forward in increments. And when it is my turn, I see that there are unstocked shelves, places the freezers are bare, only two bags of my favorite popcorn available. But they have what we require, what we usually get.
I turn the corner to the produce aisle and see the banana towers, like if tiered cake stands were person-height and bananas were artfully arranged on them. There are two because there are two kinds of bananas – regular and organic. Today the regular bananas are sparse and spotted, bruised, turning, good for banana bread, maybe. They waft their sweet scent into the air. The organic bananas are not impressed, they are immovably and bitterly green on their own tier. Both are inedible as is. And so I opt for the organic bananas, because I have a small tow-headed boy at home who definitely wants bananas and the green ones will eventually be eatable.
When I get home with the groceries, he digs through the brown paper bags that I have set on the tile kitchen floor because he knows that bananas will be in there.
“Can I have a banana break?” he asks.
“Love, they’re green. They won’t taste very good right now.”
“I want a banana,” he says.
And so Dad chimes in, “The bananas are sad right now. We will have to wait to eat them.”
“Mom,” this little boy says to me.
“The bananas are sad. I will cheer them up.”
He goes to grab two toy planes, one for the bananas and one for himself. He pushes the second plane to the fruit bowl. He sings, he dances, he flashes his charming smile. He is sad that he still cannot eat a banana.
“Oh honey, that’s not really… sometimes bananas can’t be cheered up. Sometimes bananas will be sad for a few days.”
We talk with him about the qualities of sadness, and it becomes a banana life-lesson. Sometimes the things you love are just sad. Sometimes sad things can’t be cheered up. Sometimes you have to wait and love bananas from afar, and check again in a few days to see if they feel better. And if they don’t, you don’t have to stop loving bananas, you just have to wait again. Waiting is hard, but eventually we won’t have to wait anymore.
He takes it well.
“Mom, we can’t cheer the bananas up,” he eventually says to me. “They’re just sad.”
It is three days later when white supremacists attempt a coup on the government. I hand the small boy a banana without thinking about it much. They’re yellow at this point, or at least yellow enough for passing.
“Mom?” he says, his eyes lighting up.
I refocus. My mind is not in Washington anymore. It’s here, with this small boy who is asking me a question.
“Are the bananas happy again?”
“Yes, the bananas are happy, you can eat one.”
“The bananas are happy,” he sighs like all is right in the world. “They cheered up. I will eat them.” He bites into one, holding the rest of the white crescent in his left hand. The sweet smell of them rises up.
The world is on fire, but the bananas are happy. And for two moments in time, that is enough.