I decided to bake today. I thought the scent of spices, apple and vanilla would warm hearts on a rainy weekend. Spices were ground, flour sifted, eggs beaten. Sugar and butter weighed and mixed. I took my time. Concentrating on the small details. Letting my mind be filled with the task at hand.
Sometimes a cake is a metaphor. All that mixing and measuring. The coming together of separate things to create a whole. The batter tasted sweet, with a promise of what was to come.
I feel a million miles away from people I love this week. Cake doesn’t shorten the distance. But it tastes good. It smells good. I can post pictures of it on instagram and pretend my life is one great big old piece of cake. Easy. Lovely. Sugary. Life as cake.
The thing is, cake doesn’t always turn out the way you hope. Sometimes, even with following the method to a tee it doesn’t do what you want it to.
Sometimes, cake doesn’t come out of the tin. You prise and poke, you tap and shake. But nothing happens.
I foolishly thought if I baked a perfect cake, the day would get better. I foolishly thought if I baked the perfect cake, I wouldn’t think about cancer for a while. Turns out cake doesn’t know my wishes. Turns out cake is, after all, just cake.
In my mind the cake would come out of the perfectly prepared tin in one easy, syrupy upside down tap. In my mind I would be posting another picture perfect cake image on instagram. See? The image would say, today is just one big happy cake filled day.
But cake is just ingredients. It’s just flour and sugar, egg, spice, vanilla, butter and milk. It can’t make distance shrink. It doesn’t remove hurt, or missing, or sadness. It didn’t know I needed a perfect cake.
Turns out even crumbled, falling apart baked goods taste just as good as the ones the keep together. It seems even if the cake doesn’t look the way to should, the tears don’t fall.
Nothing has changed. I’m still sad. I still wish I could place cake in a tin and drive to share it with the people I miss most. But I can’t.
The cake may have crumbled. But turns out I didn’t.
Cake. Stupid, delicious, uncooperative cake. Perhaps it is more than the sum of its parts after all.
Yesterday was a not so good day. What seemed like an ordinary day went down hill fast. I should have known. The telltale signs were there around 7am. Pain in my hips and knees. A stiff back. Slow moving wrists.
You don’t look like you have arthritis I was told by 10am. A cursory glance at my hands followed.
I keep pretty active I said. Trailing off. Feeling deflated.
That’s the thing. I don’t look unwell. Some days I’m not. Some weeks I’m not.
My day was spent sleeping, or wanting to sleep. Timing hours so I knew when to take more pain killers. Making notes to fill the specialist in next visit.
The good in all this is the kids are older now and get it. When I say I’m having a bad day they know that means they will be the ones doing all the washing and dishes. That the heater will be turned up and I will be mostly giving orders from bed, or the couch.
The bad in all this is I ache. A lot. I am tired. More than I should be. I have not run in a week. I miss it. I should be happy I can still run at all. That my specialist supports me in this, albeit begrudgingly. But today I can’t see that so much. Today I don’t want driving a car to be an effort. Or making a cup of tea. I don’t want to have to watch how much wine I consume, or remember it’s not just my joints. Lungs, heart, eyes all get a chance at being affected too. As do my kidneys, not helped by daily medication.
Imagine if you will someone running in circles. With only one shoe on. Maybe half dressed. Hair a little crazy.
Yeah, that’s me.
I have a million things to do. Well, perhaps not quite that many but it seems like it. We have what could arguably be one of the biggest weeks of the year coming up at work. The end of the term is approaching and my own kids are tired, in need of a break and a good sleep in. As am I.
It will come. I know it will.
In the meantime there are things to get done. Work to complete. Early nights to be lusted after. Chocolate to be consumed in quantities greater than the recommended daily intake.
Winter has arrived, in a flurry of rain and cold. So has the odd shared bottle of shiraz.
Rain falls on and on. The sound on the roof offers some comfort in the dark too early nights.
Last weekend I not only contemplated collecting my daughter from a friends in my uggs, I went ahead and did it. This is either a great leap forward in my ability to not give a shit, or I have passed into the gone too far stage of my life.
Tiredness abounds. Dory sings on in my head, just keep swimming… and I wait for a day I can wear uggs, pjs and sip shiraz with no fear of having to leave the house, nor collect a child from anywhere.
It will come.
In the meantime, there is trash TV, easy cook meals and a pen to mark the days from the calendar.
Some days things get the better of me. Usually just about the time I take a moment to stop and think, well isn’t everything going well. Murphy’s Law 101. There have been times when my answer to anything remotely hard is an overwhelming urge to bury my head in the sand.
As life would have it, this is never really the wisest of solutions. As much as hiding away would be the quickest and easiest solution, it’s not going to get anything sorted. So, onwards it is.
This is why I was up at a somewhat early hour yesterday morning tackling an issue. It is why I made a flurry of notes, researched, found old notes and texted some people with an SOS. It is why by 10am I had six hand written pages, about as many tabs open and a cold cup of tea.
It is also why that afternoon I had time to bake. Anzac biscuits and another batch of bread. The problem had not gone away. Rarely, if ever are things so easy to solve. But I am underway. I have information, resources and a way forward.
I have some space in my head for other things. My shoulders are not as high and tense. My neck, not so achey. There is a way to go, but for now, there is a plan. So while I mull over ideas, think on what has been planned and where to go now, I medicate with the simple movements of mixing and stirring, forming and baking.
Things are rarely all going well, but there is always time for baking.
There are some days when a walk and company are all that is needed.
There are days when the best company is none at all.
There are days when you decided to stay, have one more glass of wine with a friend. To walk, leaving the car to be collected the next day. You head through their garden, out the back gate and down the road to home.
Shit is getting real people. Shit is getting real.
The oh so very pointy end of the year is here. Meetings in overdrive, reports being written, ends are being tied, hopefully tightly. Nothing messier than unravelling ends.
As I type flashes of henna from my palm appear. It makes me smile. Music plays from the dock on the top of the fridge. The washing machine hums and spins.
Thoughts fly. Hearts pump. Lungs fill and deflate.
The pointy end is here, and I am not ready. I need time. I want to hold out my henna inked palm and tell the world to just stop. Please. Just for a while. I’m not ready.
I need to run. I need to ride. I need to slow down. Move more. Rest easy. Keep going. Eat less. Eat more. Sleep. Sit in the sun. Brew tea.
I am angry at the universe today. I am rebelling against it by cleaning the toilet in good clothes. I am playing music loud and throwing caution to the wind. Take that universe! Get bleach on me as I scrub the loo. I dare you.
Some days are better than others. It’s the way it goes.
Thoughts fly. Hearts pump. Lungs fill and deflate.
We get up, we get on. It is the way of things. Tomorrow, so the cliché goes, is another day.
Here’s the thing. Some days I am completely over my job. The being surrounded by children. Repeating myself over and over and over again. Sometimes I’d like to be able to wear heels and a pencil skirt. Have nail polish remain chip free for longer than twenty-four hours. Like to stay in an office and not need to think about hat hair.
But mostly I love what I do. Love being able to watch as children think about what infinity is. I can not believe I get to watch as children roll out paper from one end of the room to the other. Roll it out the door, through the hall and into the next room, just so they can write down impossibly long numerals. Seeing minds at work. Being a part of learning. I get to do that each and every day I go to work.
Sometimes I get bogged in the never ending administration. In risk minimisation plans, policies, meetings. The fourteen hour days and the relentless noise.
But mostly I love that I get to be a part of so many lives. That I get to be outside (even with hat hair). I can add my shoes to the pile in the specially marked shoe basket. Have my feet covered in sand. Wonder with my charges at the seeds in the vegetable garden and the way the cactus grows.
Yell, what’s the time Mr Wolf? Into the wind.
I am lucky. I get to see the world through the eyes of four and five year olds. Together we marvel at the way paint and a brush tell a story. How a single piece of material can become a hero, a princess, a cat…
I love what I do. But I am tired. The end of the year is coming. There are reports to write. Concerts to get ready for. Goodbyes to be said.
I will wake each work morning and get ready. For the paperwork, the children and the time I have left.
I know they are ready to move on. I know they need me no more.
I will say my goodbyes quietly to myself as I watch them all leave.
I will smile as I walk across the yard, children out growing me calling my name, ‘Naomi, we are in big school now!’
‘Yes you are!’ I’ll call back. ‘You are so big now!’ I will add.
And with that, I will walk on by, my job being done.
I am over my job.
But I love what I do. And that is the way it should be.