Yes, I know. That doesn't look scary: it looks like a small bowl of bran flakes with sliced bananas.
Which is exactly what it is.
Except that these are the first bananas I've eaten in, let's see, 59 minus 19 = 40 years.
I stopped eating bananas when I was in college, after getting violently sick after consuming one -- intestinal cramps, diarrhea -- and not for the first time; I had suspected for a while that bananas didn't agree with me. But this final incident was much worse - like an allergic reaction. So I just stopped, and since then I've told people I can eat just about anything, except bananas. And oysters.
But lately, I started thinking I wanted to try again. J., who loves them, had just bought a bunch of particularly delicious-looking bananas, and on Sunday, as we made our coffee and fixed bowls of cereal, I said, OK, let me have a taste. I ate one bite, and waited. Hours went by...nothing happened. So the next day I ate three slices. Again, nothing. And yesterday, I ate the breakfast in the picture above, and I'm still here, none the worst for wear, except that (a) I'm delighted to think I can add this wonderful food back into my eating repertoire and (b) I feel like an idiot.
Well, OK, not an idiot exactly, but I'm perplexed. Was this a real thing, at one time in my life - a real allergy - that I've outgrown? Or have I been under a forty-year illusion? Either way, what I thought was reality has a sudden curve in it. How many things in life are like this? How many fears are actually baseless? How much living do we avoid because of those fears, or illusions? Conversely, how much does one's body chemistry change over time? My suspicion is that it changes more than we think, particularly with regard to digestion. I used to be much more lactose-intolerant than I am now, for instance, and my entire digestive system works much much better since I adopted different and healthier eating habits, which took place over a fairly long period of time, most of the entire last decade. Developing a bleeding ulcer ten years ago and learning what was going on in my insides, with the help of an excellent GI specialist at Royal Victoria Hospital, was one precipitating factor. I changed my diet to include considerably more fiber, whole grains, whole foods, less sugar, less fat, less meat, more fruits and vegetables. Living in Montreal had something to do with it too -- we are able to eat a greater variety of food here, it's fresher, and while it's not all organic, there are fewer additives and preservatives allowed by law: in fact, a USDA inspecter at the border once told me if she could, she'd only eat Canadian food products because she knew what the differences were. I tried to learn about, face, and take steps to control the stress in my life. And I stopped using aspirin or any other form of anti-inflammatory medication, which were, in my case, after all the tests came in, the immediate reasons for the bleeding ulcer.
Anyway, to get back to the hero of today's story: I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to look a banana in the eye and not have a moment of thinking of it as potential poison (and you with gutter-minds, just stop that thought in its tracks...) but I do feel like I've been given a gift, not just in terms of a food I'll enjoy eating, but the questions it's prompted me to ponder. What else lurks in the shadows of my life, avoided, feared, abandoned, untried for decades? Isn't it time to find out?