Cake Decorating and Finding Oneself

Cakes • 8 Jul 2014

I’m in the process of finding myself. And I felt astoundingly lost the other day, so I baked a cake.

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I always found that expression suspect, like referring to that time you aimlessly lost yourself among the chaste, inanimately cold racks at a skyscraping department store, hiding beneath a robust pile of identically folded t-shirts while your mom hysterically screams your name.

If we’re going to focus on semantics, I don’t really feel lost; my identity runs deep, my feet firmly planted in the dusty city soil. I am a mother, a home cook and a writer; my Brooklyn existence is glaringly lucid and my identities intersect fairly seamlessly, the fabric of my being woven together like an eclectic but well-crafted quilt. I never lament the ships that surreptitiously, and perhaps serendipitously, passed me in the night and I’ve discovered my stamina, my very grown-up ability to nourish and love, my willingness to put another’s needs before mine.

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But our stasis is about to unfurl, our city life jettisoned; we’re about to depart for suburban life, a life in closer proximity to my husband’s work, leaving Brooklyn in our rear view mirror. Though we relocate every few years, moving has never been my forte- friendships dissolved, memories vaporized. Just the thought of packing makes my bones ache, creates bundled knots in my belly. Our Brooklyn ghosts have already begun taking flight and yet I cannot fathom starting anew, unearthing a new social circle for not only myself but also for my son, germinating my latent career and rebuilding everything I cherish about urban family life. I’m not really in the mood to dangle my emotions off a cliff’s edge. I do not feel like untangling the muddled cobweb strands that accompany major life change.

Feeling stress clamping down on my temples, a headache pulsing through my skull, I baked a cake- a three layer confetti cake, wedged between layers of robin’s egg blue icing, perfectly leveled, covered in wedding-white icing and spattered with teal and electric blue raindrops. I had planned to bring a cake to my son’s preschool graduation potluck, but got fancy and in one fell swoop, took on cake decorating as a new hobby.

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Next up was a baby shower, a friend of a friend, with a baby girl on board. My meticulous side rules when cake decorating, and possessing creative control in stressful times is a much-needed crutch. I relish the discipline, creativity and forthcoming sugar-induced ecstasy. I plan to bake, to teach myself the ins and outs of cake decorating, to combat the ennui of inhabiting a new town. I will bake to fight the helpless wave of emotion that often befalls me in the throes of change.

My blistered hands, still sore from unpacking, will bake and knead and sculpt and help me find myself in my new home. Cake decorating will bridge the gap, will mend the cracks procured from uprooting our family, and will hopefully help endear us to our neighbors and new friends. Baking might just be my life preserver, and my hat tip to our future in our charming new town.

One Response

  1. Diane Yates

    I LOVE your writing. Hope you’ll take a break from cooking/baking sometime to write a book!

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