Peanut Butter and Jelly

Hi readers, I want to shake things up a bit and post vignettes and random commentary from my life in addition to the style I have established over the last few months. It’s time to throw some different ingredients in the blender and bake another cake. Hopefully you may be appreciative. Thank you for your reads and your support thus far. Here goes.

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Peanut butter and jelly. On white bread. The quintessential sandwich of childhood, memories built around baked bread with bleached flour, ground-up peanuts seasoned to taste, and a pomade of preserved fruit. Simple, yet profound, in its existence, a component of childhood often overlooked in a cacophony of recollections of soccer games and ballet recitals. However it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that forms one of my earliest memories of childhood – feelings of loneliness and despondency and the bonds of friendship.

I was about six years old, nearly seven, residing in a suburb of Los Angeles. Our family had just trekked across the United States in a blue minivan from the state of New Hampshire. I had two sisters in tow, both younger, one an infant and the other preschool age. I was beginning first grade. It was my first day of school, and my mother had dutifully packed my lunch. It was simple. I am not quite sure what exactly it was composed of, but I know of a certainty there was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread.

When it came to lunch time, I made my way to the outdoor quad that served as what I like to call the lunch arena. The day was warm and sunny, as it commonly is in Southern California, and students of all grades flocked toward one another and formed their cliques and lunch buddy clubs. I took a seat on the concrete towards the side of the quad, not in the action, but not necessarily detached. I took out my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread, and amidst the first few bites, I began to cry. Tears of loneliness, tears of despondency. I was alone. Devoid of any company, and it stung. One of the lunch aids came over, addressed the situation, and treated me in a brash manner. Had she never encountered a student, experiencing the fear and timidness associated with beginning life at a new school and being friendless in a big pond?

Apparently following lunch, word made its way to my teacher about the incident in the quad, and she took matters into her own hands. See, my elementary school had this program where students received lottery tickets for commendable work or behavior performed, and the more accumulated, the better the recognition and awards. My teacher stealthily manipulated this system to find a set of friends for me. She selected three of the young girls from the class and awarded them lottery tickets should they befriend me and show me the ropes, so to speak, of surviving and thriving at the elementary school. Our friendship spanned far past the first grade and into high school, where we parted ways, as many relationships have the potential to go.

Finding friends can be both the easiest and most difficult task in life, and also one of the most rewarding. Every time I spread some Jif Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smuckers Jam on wheat – not white – bread, I cannot help but recall how this very sandwich opened up a world of opportunities for me in a new school, a new town, and a new community where I could grow, develop, and thrive.

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4 comments

  1. I still remember the scary feeling of coming into a new school without knowing a soul. In one school, the teacher assigned two girls to be my guides for the first few days. It was so helpful in making me feel comfortable that I remembered it years later when I was teaching elementary school and did the same for new students.

  2. It was only until I moved from Ohio to LA when I was 20, that I experienced similar feelings. Even though I already knew a few friends who had made the move earlier, acclimating to this foreign land was formidable. I used a guitar, which I didn’t know how to play at the time, to buffer new people and events. I just held it across my knee pretending I was trying make music. Actually, before long, I was making music. BTW, I just finished my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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